Sierra Maciorowski

Bishop O'Dowd and Menlo Park Share Victory at the Totally Free Tournament

Sierra Maciorowski
Bishop O'Dowd and Menlo Park Share Victory at the Totally Free Tournament

On October 7, 28 teams in the open division and 29 teams in the junior varsity division debated at the second annual Totally Free Tournament, held at Bishop O’Dowd High School. 
The tournament crowned two co-champions at the end of Saturday night, following the semifinal rounds. In semifinals, Menlo Park’s Pascal Descollonges & Akshar Ramkumar defeated top-seeded Menlo-Atherton’s Maya Bodnick & Sathvik Nori to earn one co-champion slot, while Bishop O’Dowd’s Claudia Hester & Alden O'Rafferty defeated Irvington’s Reetam Ganguli & Isha Sanghvi for the other. Both winners finished preliminary rounds with 4-0 records. 
The Totally Free Tournament debuted in October 2016, and, in accordance with its title, the tournament continues to be completely free. From entry fees to lunch for both debaters and judges, all costs were covered by Club Parli.
Aside from cost-free participation, the tournament continues to be lay-oriented. Teams were encouraged to send judges with little to no experience, and the tournament provided a judging seminar, followed up during lunchtime to evaluate judges’ tournament experiences. 

With entirely lay judges, the tournament was easier to engage in for competitors at any level of experience. “TFT was envisioned as an accessible tournament, and it would be counterproductive to have a flow tournament when some teams would have a harder time facing that structure,” said Irvington’s William Yoo. 
Speaker awards were awarded to Claudia Hester, Berkeley High School’s Adrian Feinberg, and Yoo, respectively. Within the junior varsity division, Bishop O’Dowd’s McKenzie Taffe, Bay Area Forensics’ Brian Anderson, and Foster City’s Alina Chen came out on top. 
The Totally Free Tournament allowed teams to debate the entire day with five single-flighted preliminary rounds. Because the tournament campus needed debaters to leave earlier than expected, the day closed with the final round declared as a draw. 


Menlo Park Pascal Descollonges & Akshar Ramkumar def. Menlo-Atherton Maya Bodnick & Sathvik Nori (2-1)

Bishop O’Dowd Claudia Hester & Alden O'Rafferty def. Irvington Reetam Ganguli & Isha Sanghvi (2-1)

Our Northern California correspondents are Emily Her, who competes for Dougherty Valley High School, and Anoushka Singal, who competes for Irvington High School.