On October 14 at the third annual Wilson Invitational, four teams broke to semifinals, earning qualifying legs to the OSAA state championship. In the absence of a final round, as is common in Oregon, the tournament ended after semis. 

In one round, Southridge’s Jakob Hollenbeck & Joey Miller successfully affirmed the resolution that “The US should limit campaign contributions from corporations” against West Linn’s Nalini Oliver & Lauren Samberg. Meanwhile, Crescent Valley’s Garak Ward & Aravind Sriram successfully negated that “The US should limit PAC contributions to candidates” against South Albany’s Jacobi Fisher & Isaac Hull. All four teams that broke to semifinals had undefeated records in prelims. 

Wilson is a season opener for many schools in Northern Oregon, and a total of 33 teams entered in the open parliamentary debate division. 

Wilson, like many Oregon tournaments, made the change to breaking off of opposition strength instead of speaker points last year. The switch was primarily because Oregon has yet to move to a standardized speaker points system like California: instead of allowing for points to be awarded to the tenth decimal place, Oregon’s speaker points are on a whole number scale, and there is often little deviation in speaker points from team to team. 

Breaking off of opposition strength means that teams are rewarded for beating teams with better records. For example, a team that is 3-0 but had three opponents with 1-2 records would be ranked below a 3-0 team whose opponents had 2-1 records. This change removes a potential area for judge intervention in speaker points, and replaces it with a system entirely based upon pairings. 

“[The change] seemed almost a bit overdue,” said Miller. “And while I don't expect it will overhaul the system, it definitely helps improve a system that carries real impact on competitions as a whole.” Overall, the transition in Oregon has been a relatively smooth one, and while time will tell if any issues with opposition strength arise, the reception so far has been positive.

Judge intervention is a problem in other regions as well, and sometimes causes problems for competitors. “Teams are [often] not able to advance to break rounds simply because they might have gotten a judge who gives lower speaker points on average than other judges,” said Irvington’s Isha Sanghvi, the top speaker at the recent Cal Parli Invitational in northern California. This provides an incentive for more changes to the system. 

The next Portland area tournament will be the Saints Invitational at Mount Hood Community College on November 4th.

Our Oregon correspondents are Hannah Doyle, who competes for Ashland High School, and Gabriel Graville, who competes for Lake Oswego High School.