In just a few weeks, the 2014-2015 debate season will begin. With it, we can look forward to the usual overtime tournaments and slightly stale pizza, team adventures and one-clap rule. However, this year will be different in some ways from those past--- with so many teams from the top of the rankings gone, especially in Northern California, it’s difficult to fathom what the makeup of the rankings will be.
Most of last year’s top debaters have graduated, but we can perhaps guess at the possibilities for next year by examining the few remaining: of the top ten Northern California teams, only three debaters remain: Bishop O’Dowd’s Shawn Cunningham, Sonoma Academy’s Logan Noel, and James Logan’s Ashley Chang. Those three will likely stay at or near the top, but as tournaments begin and POI points accumulate, we can anticipate the rise of other teams to fill the power vacuum-- who they will be, no one can tell.
The early Northern California season begins with the Banana Classic at Analy High School, of course, so we shall get our first glances at the forerunners of NorCal parli in approximately three weeks. There, banana trophies shall tell the tale of what shape our parli community might take this year, and who might become the points of the star. Of course, one tournament isn’t a perfect predictor of future success, but with the first GGSA tournament to follow at Santa Rosa High School the next weekend, we should have some estimations by the end of September.
Looking objectively at the strongest schools in our region from last year, we see Bishop O’Dowd at the top, followed by Leland, Lowell, Evergreen Valley, and Dougherty Valley, in order. O’Dowd has lost some of its long-standing competitors to graduation, like the teams of Zepeda & Walsh and Viviani & Perl. Leland and Lowell also appear to have lost some of their highest teams: from Leland, Chen & Tang and Chen & Yun, and from Lowell, Chen & Cunningham and Lam & Weiss. Lowell, however, keeps the team of Pollock & White, and Evergreen keeps their teams of Abushama & Cochinwala and Shukla & Zielinski, while Dougherty loses Konath & Wang.
The next five schools in Northern California count Sonoma Academy, Windsor, Granite Bay, Gunn, and Bentley, all of which will lose members of their top teams, except Windsor, whose top three teams will all stay together and present this season. Included below are the Northern California club rankings from last year:
Bishop O’Dowd 232.5
Evergreen Valley 81
Dougherty Valley 80
Sonoma Academy 77
Granite Bay 63.5
Of particular note are the close races between Evergreen Valley and Dougherty Valley, and Sonoma Academy and Windsor. Will this year see any flip-flops in the rankings, or will they stay around the same? We can look forward to finding out in the upcoming season.
NorCal parli has lost some-- many --of its strongest teams, but that does not mean that it will not still be strong as a whole. Between graduations and preparations, when we look at past rankings, we can see that the top debaters each year generally came from the mid-10s and 20s of the rankings prior. So, based on last year’s national rankings, it seems that Northern California currently has four of the probable top ten teams, as you can see below, in italics:
Peninsula F? (Foltz & ?)
Bishop O’Dowd CJ (Cunningham & Johnson)
Lake Oswego GT (Groznik & Tanveer)
Ashland P? (Preskenis & ?)
Sonoma Academy NM (Noel & Maciorowski)
James Logan C? (Chang & ?)
Summit GH (Ginsparg & Hobbs)
Windsor FM (Foster & Miller)
Claremont MS (Musa & Schnabel)
West Albany DR (Delsman & Roberts)
Carlsbad HO (Hashmi & O’Neill)
Time to buckle down, Northern California, if we want to stay up there! Of course, given our regional history of strong debate programs and teams, chances are that hordes of new debaters will rise up to the challenge.
Sierra Maciorowski debates for Sonoma Academy and is the opinion page editor for Point of Information.