March 21, 2022
Speech & Debate wins state championship
The Upper St. Clair Speech & Debate team won the Pennsylvania High School Speech League (PHSSL) State Championship for the third time since 2017. The team defeated rival North Allegheny in three major categories – Debate Sweepstakes, Speech Sweepstakes and Overall Large School Sweepstakes. The tournament was held virtually March 19-20.
Seniors Rushikesh Kulkarni and Dev Patel closed out their careers in Parliamentary Debate with a 5-0 victory over North Allegheny in the State Final Round to win Upper St. Clair's fourth PHSSL Championship in the event. They were 15-1 on ballots throughout the tournament.
Juniors Qadir Khan and Daniel Wang advanced to the State Final Round in Public Forum Debate, eventually falling to North Allegheny.
In total, 46 Upper St. Clair students – representing 34 entries – qualified to compete in the annual competition. Of those, 26 students – 19 entries – advanced to the second day of competition.
The following competitors advanced to Debate Semifinal Rounds or the Congress SuperSession (Top 4):
- Juniors Jack Miller and Patrick Nowak – tied for third place, Parliamentary Debate
- Senior Eva Rankin and Junior Edythe McCurrie – tied for third place, Public Forum Debate
- Junior Priyanka Palayekar – third place, Congress House
- Junior Ansh Goyal – third place, Congress Senate
The following competitors advanced to speech State Final Rounds (Top 6):
- Seniors Rhea Punjabi & Nivedha Suresh – second place, News Broadcasting
- Senior Shivani Jajoo – third place, Commentary
- Senior Esha Lahoti – fourth place, Informative
- Senior Evan Barker – fourth place, Prose
- Senior Shana Reddy – sixth place, Informative
The following competitors advanced to quarterfinals in Debate (Top 8), but did not advance to semifinals: Jasmine Dietiker, Extemporaneous Debate; Isabel Vilensky and Theeya Chen, Parliamentary Debate; Saif Durrani, Lincoln-Douglas Debate; Sambhav Saggi, Lincoln-Douglas Debate; and Ammar Kethavath and Will Bacdayan, Public Forum Debate.
The following competitors made the semifinals in Speech events (Top 12), but did not advance to final rounds: Arnav Kumar, Dramatic Interpretation; Saif bin Hammad, Commentary; Nitin Chandran, Extemporaneous; Cameron Weber, Extemporaneous; and Rosemary Ramirez, Impromptu.
The following competitors qualified for the state tournament through either the bid system (three bids throughout the season for auto-qualification) or at the District Qualifier in February: Ujal Gautam, Senate; Jack Loomis, Senate; Ashe Sobel-Drum, Senate; Maya Talasela, Poetry; Cadence Golden, Poetry; Scott Cheung and Nitish Sharma, Public Forum Debate; Maanasa Reddy, Persuasive; Priyasha Itani, Persuasive; Matthew Hrehocik, Extemporaneous; Henry Zheng, Extemporaneous; Shubham Patel and Shiven Verma, Policy Debate; and Daniel Paulick, Commentary. Ashley Eichberg and Shreya Golakiya, Policy Debate; and Henry Ginsburg, Extemporaneous Debate, qualified, but were unable to compete at States.
The Upper St. Clair High School Speech & Debate Team is coached by high school teachers Ben Edwards and Dave Watson. Founded in 1961, the Pennsylvania High School Speech League’s purpose is to stimulate through educational competition an understanding and appreciation of all areas of speech.