• June 23, 2023

    Speech & Debate excels at national tournaments

    Nitin Chandran The Upper St. Clair High School Speech & Debate Team boasted successful performances at the recent National Speech & Debate Association and National Catholic Forensic League tournaments. The team is coached by Ben Edwards, Dave Watson, Erin Wolf, and Neale Misquitta.

    A school record of 13 Upper St. Clair students qualified to compete at the NSDA National Tournament, which took place June 11-16 in Phoenix, Ariz. According to NSDA’s website, the tournament is the largest academic competition in the world with more than 6,000 students debating current issues, voicing their views and sharing their stories.

    Two recent graduates achieved among the highest NSDA finishes in team history. Nitin Chandran placed 30th in U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking – achieving the fourth highest finish in a NSDA tournament main event in team history. Ansh Goyal finished 15th in his Senate semifinal chamber, USC’s highest finish ever in Student Congress.

    The World Schools Debate team – comprised of 2023 graduates Jasmine Dietiker, Edy McCurrie and Patrick Nowak – went 5-1 in the preliminary rounds. The team fell in the round of 64 as the 16th overall seed, marking the second-best finish by a Pittsburgh World Schools team at nationals.

    In supplemental events, rising senior Priyasha Itani finished 24th in Impromptu, reaching the quarterfinals, and rising senior Ashe Sobel-Drum finished 56th in Original Spoken-Word Poetry.

    In addition, several others competed at the NSDA National Tournament, including:

    • House: 2023 graduate Nicky Misquitta and rising senior Ashe Sobel-Drum
    • International Extemporaneous: 2023 graduate Matthew Hrehocik
    • World Schools Debate Team: 2023 graduates Qadir Khan, Jack Miller & Priyanka Palayekar
    • Original Oratory: rising seniors Priyasha Itani and Aarav Patil

    The NCFL Grand Nationals were held May 27-28, 2023, in Louisville, Ky. In total, 28 Upper St. Clair students qualified to compete with seven advancing in the competition from among more than 2,000 competitors representing over 400 schools nationwide.

    “USC Speech & Debate had a spectacular showing at NCFL Nationals – both bringing and advancing the most students in Pennsylvania and among the most nationwide,” Mr. Edwards said. “The Extemporaneous Speaking team built upon its historic success at PHSSL States by advancing all four qualifiers to elimination rounds, which is a first for our team and, as a cursory glance at the results would indicate, the only school to do this in any event at the tournament this year.”

    The following students finished within the top 48 in their respective events – advancing to the second day of competition:

    • 6th Place – Congress: Ujal Gautam, rising senior
    • 13th Place – Declamation: Vincent Watson, rising sophomore
    • 15th Place – Extemporaneous Speaking: Nitin Chandran, 2023 graduate
    • 30th Place – Extemporaneous Speaking: Ishaan Sharma, rising junior
    • 36th Place – Original Oratory: Aarav Patil, rising senior
    • 41st Place – Extemporaneous Speaking: Matthew Hrehocik, 2023 graduate
    • 44th Place – Extemporaneous Speaking: Cameron Weber, 2023 graduate

    The following Upper St. Clair High School students also competed at the NCFL Grand Nationals event:

    • Policy Debate: 2023 graduate Savera Baloch; rising juniors Lucia Miles, Shubham Patel and Shiven Verma; rising junior Helly Makadia; and rising sophomore Eva Dimanov
    • Public Forum Debate: 2023 graduates Qadir Khan and Edy McCurrie
    • Lincoln-Douglas Debate: rising junior Nikhita Thakuria
    • Original Oratory: 2023 graduate Maanasa Reddy; rising senior Priyasha Itani; and rising sophomore Anoushka Barve
    • Oral Interpretation of Prose & Poetry: rising junior Alison Hanna
    • Dramatic Performance: rising sophomore Hansika Yanamadala
    • Declamation: rising junior Roshan Mishra and rising sophomore Arth Italiya
    • Duo Interpretation: Rising senior Arnav Kumar and rising junior Anushka Sharma
    • Student Congress: 2023 graduate Ansh Goyal (elected presiding officer) and rising senior Ashe Sobel-Drum