NU debators continue their legacy of victory

Laura Schocker

Northwestern’s debate team this Monday captured their l3th win in the 59th annual National Debate Tournament in Spokane, Wash.

The duo of Communication senior Tristan Morales and Communication junior Josh Branson secured their win for NU with a score of 3-2 in the finals against a team from University of California at Berkeley.

They also defeated Dartmouth College in the quarter finals and Harvard University in the semifinals.

The tournament was hosted by Gonzaga University and featured 78 two-person teams. Under the direction of debate team coach Scott Deatherage, two NU teams entered the tournament.

“The competition is very similar to March Madness,” Branson said. “You have a preliminary competition and then a single elimination.”

This year’s competition focused on the broad topic of energy. The specific debate topic for Branson and Morales was, “The United States Federal Government should establish an energy policy requiring a substantial reduction in the total non-governmental consumption of fossil fuels in the United States.”

The team argued in favor of this assertion, making a case for the use of solar energy as an alternative.

“We probably stayed up all night for a month researching everything about energy,” Branson said.

He and Morales collaborated with NU’s other team, Weinberg sophomore Noah Chestnut and Communication junior Randall Bush, during the school year, but the two teams competed separately during the four-day competition.

NU’s win marked its 13th win in the tournament’s history. Branson said this precedent increased the stress he felt entering the competition.

“The fact that we’re from Northwestern, combined with the fact that we came as the top-seeded team added to the pressure,” he said.

Morales said he also felt the impact of NU’s past victories.

“We had a high expectation and felt our chances were high,” he said. “But you can never really say beforehand if you’re going to win or lose.”

Despite these expectations, he said they cherish each individual win.

Morales added that the team had been preparing for the debate all school year after the energy theme was disclosed.

“We mostly prepare by just researching the topic,” he said. “Then, as the year closes in, we narrow in on what the other schools are talking about to focus our own preparations.”

Morales said his second win during his debate team career was a satisfying way to end his participation.

“It was the ideal way to finish at Northwestern,” he said. “This is what we have been working on all year and years before.”

Next year NU will host the 60th anniversary tournament in Evanston.

Reach Laura Schocker at [email protected]