Young Debaters Shine at Lexington Winter Invitational Tournament

(l.-r.) Mike Bellia ’21, Steven Brunetti ’20, Jack Viscuso ’21, and Steven Jones ’21 show off their new hardware in Lexington.

TBy Jack Viscuso ’21 and Aidan Fitzgerald ’18

 

The 2:57 p.m. bell last Friday signaled the start of a relaxing three-day weekend for many weary Flyers.  But for members of the Robert C. Wright Speech and Debate team, the grind was just beginning.  Weeks of preparation had led up to this moment, and their skills were finally going to be put to the test against schools from across the country.

Before the start of fifth period on Friday afternoon, the team boarded a bus and departed for the Lexington Winter Invitational Tournament in Massachusetts.  After a traffic-jammed six-and-a-half hour drive, they arrived at the Boston Marriott Burlington.  The team appeased their ravenous appetites by enjoying some burgers and fries at Wendy’s.  After some final preparations, they hit the hay, ready to conquer the challenging competition ahead.

The Lexington tournament is dominated by progressive debaters who tend to run unusual cases comprised of obscure arguments. This makes it especially difficult for Chaminade debaters, who practice a more traditional style of debate.  

For that reason, Debate president John Michael Magloire ’18 felt that “Lexington is one of the most difficult invitational tournaments,” he said.

Early Saturday morning, the team ate breakfast at the hotel and headed to Lexington High School or Jonas Clarke Middle School, depending on the categories in which they were competing. The team got off to a rocky start through the first four rounds of intense debate but began to improve their records as the day drew to a close.

After attending Mass late Saturday night, the team returned to the hotel to get some much-needed sleep.

On Sunday, the stakes were much higher. There were only two pre-elimination rounds remaining before the top 16 debaters or teams in each category were chosen to compete in elimination rounds. Usually, any competitor with a record higher than 4-2 will earn a spot in octofinals.

Of the 16 octofinalists in Novice LD (LD, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, refers to the style of 1-on-1 debate), Chaminade accounted for four spots, with four of the six Chaminade Novice LDers clinching a position in the bracket. These students included Mike Bellia ’21, Steven Jones ’21, Steven Brunetti ’20, and Jack Viscuso ’21. Despite a hard-fought battle, none of them advanced. However, Bellia and Viscuso were awarded for obtaining high speaker points from the judges, winning fifth- and seventh-place speaker awards, respectively.

In addition to the novices, Chaminade’s varsity competitors, which includes juniors and seniors, faced unusually tough competition. Yet, they put forth a relentless effort.

“It was one of the toughest tournaments yet,” admitted Dan Hepworth, a senior. “Even though I went 2-4, I was very proud to see our novice debaters do so well.”

To cap off the team’s strong showing, everyone enjoyed a beloved team tradition: a several-course meal at a Japanese restaurant known as Dabin.

“I really enjoyed how much fun we were able to have as a team both during the tournament and at the hotel,” said Jones.

On Martin Luther King Day, the team left Lexington and headed back to Chaminade. Fortunately, the trip home was substantially shorter, clocking in at only four hours.

“The team effort was exemplary, and I am confident that we will continue to improve as the year progresses,” said Magloire. “The team will be traveling to Harvard in February where we will debate the same topics. It is my hope that our members will use their experience from Lexington to exceed expectations at Harvard.”

After a tough weekend, the Flyers walked away feeling proud of their efforts and determined to perform better at the next competition.