Debaters Dominate at District Championship
The Debate Team piled up accolades at the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) Louisiana District Tournament on March 13-14, 2015, held at Comeaux High School in Lafayette.
In Lincoln-Douglas (LD) Debate, junior Ben Gillen went undefeated through the entire tournament, returning home as the LD District Champion. In Public Forum (PF) Debate, the team of senior Mako Giordano and junior Andrew Cerise combined with the team of senior Rishab Chimmanamada and junior Mayank Mardia to close out the finals of the District Championship as co-champions. Giordano/Cerise and Chimmanamada/Mardia successfully defended their 2014 District Championship. At the 2014 District Championship they became the first PF teams to ever co-champion a District title for Jesuit. After defending their title as co-champions once again, they became the only teams to ever win two consecutive District titles in PF Debate for Jesuit.
Each year the NSDA hosts district tournaments around the United States as part of the qualifying process to its annual National Championship. Unlike football or basketball, in which a school’s district may include a few local teams in the same division and city, Jesuit’s NSDA District is the entire state of Louisiana, and it must compete against every NSDA-member debate team in Louisiana at the District Tournament. Winning 1st or 2nd at the District Tournament qualifies debaters to the NSDA National Championship at the end of the year. This year, Gillen qualified to Nationals in only his second year of debate. Giordano/Cerise and Chimmanamada/Mardia qualified to Nationals for their second year in a row, another Jesuit Debate first.
Overall, Jesuit’s Debate Team won the Debate Sweepstakes Award, given to the team that performed the best at the tournament across all divisions of debate. This is the second consecutive year Jesuit has won the Debate Sweepstakes Award. The team also won the Morris Block Award, which recognizes the top overall program in the state of Louisiana by District points. District points are earned each year at the annual District Tournament, and it can take years and often decades for a program to climb to the top of the cumulative points rankings to earn the prestigious Morris Block Award.
“To have our program recognized as the top overall in Louisiana for cumulative success is incredibly rewarding,” said Head Coach Ian Gunn ’07. “It’s not just a testament to the great performance our debaters had at this tournament, but also to the historic successes of former debaters and coaches.”