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The Student News Site of McLean High School

The Highlander

The Student News Site of McLean High School

The Highlander

McLean conquers national debate competition

Debate club places second at Villiger Tournament
Sophomores+Tobin+Wilson+%28left%29+and+Ryan+Kang+%28right%29+holding+their+trophies+after+their+success+at+the+Villiger+Tournament.+The+Villiger+Tournament+is+a+national+debate+competition+held+annually+in+Philadelphia.
Provided by Ryan Kang
Sophomores Tobin Wilson (left) and Ryan Kang (right) holding their trophies after their success at the Villiger Tournament. The Villiger Tournament is a national debate competition held annually in Philadelphia.

Last weekend, McLean students traveled to Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia to participate in the Villiger Tournament, one of the largest national debate competitions. McLean, which was represented by sophomores Tobin Wilson and Ryan Kang, competed against hundreds of other teams and went through six pre-elimination rounds to qualify in the five elimination rounds before finally placing second in the tournament.
In preparation for this tournament, extensive work was needed to ready all the necessary materials and research. This included building strong cases as well as creating “blockfiles”—a set of responses to the opposing arguments .
“Debate is a very prep-heavy activity,” said senior Jiayin Zou, who is the captain of the debate club. “Our team spent a lot of time researching, putting together blockfiles and cases, and doing practice rounds in order to succeed.”
Not only did debaters have to prepare all the arguments, they also had to incorporate them into the round in a cohesive way. It is important for debaters to present the information in such a way that is not only convincing, but also paints a narrative.
“The most important thing, in my opinion, is the general strategy regarding how we frame the round,” Wilson said. “This is often the most difficult part to do cohesively… but it has really been the decider between us losing or winning numerous rounds throughout this season.”
As a result of McLean’s success at the Villiger Tournament, Wilson and Kang are now ranked twentieth place on national rankings for public forum debate. This boost provides them and the team as a whole with more opportunities in the future.
“[This] gives us the opportunity to attend certain invitational round robin tournaments,” Wilson said. “Hopefully, we can capitalize on the momentum this gives us and keep working to get better and compete more.”

As for the future, McLean’s debate club is looking to grow further, allowing it to be more competitive with larger teams across the country, a hope that is affirmed by its recent success.

“Debate is difficult for many as it embodies the two worst fears that a lot of people have: confrontation and public speaking,” Zou said. “I want to see more people who are encouraged to do this activity, and understand that their fears can be overcome and they can be just as successful as we were in this tournament.”

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