BY BEN DELSMAN
While both southern and northern California have lost the vast majority of their top debaters, Oregon returns an impressive amount of talent. Since I think precise rankings are a bit futile in an activity as volatile in Parli, I’ll attempt to give a bit of context before sorting out the few teams that constitute the “top tier” in Oregon parli. It should be made clear that any of these teams could give the other a tough debate, and if they string together several good rounds, any could end up with the state championship come April. That said, let’s get into it. For context, I’ve included the top ten teams from Region 5 last year.
1. Cleveland SW (Schwartz-Horney & Williams-Thomas) 35.6
2. Lake Oswego BX (Beltrone & Xu) 28.3
3. Lake Oswego GT (Groznik & Tanveer) 27.1
4. Ashland PP (Picton & Preskenis) 25.7
5. Summit GH (Jules Ginsparg & Jack Hobbs) 24.25
6. Lake Oswego SX (Samuelson & Xu) 22.95
7. Wilson MM (Meabe & Morgan-Steiner) 22.9
8. West Albany DR (Delsman & Roberts) 21.2
9. Lake Oswego FK (Fender & Kwartler) 18.7
10. Lincoln HP (Emma Hoffman & Alejandra Padin) 18.65
Notable losses to graduation include Sam Schwartz-Horney (1), both Chris Beltrone & Robert Xu (2), and Fielding Picton (4). While these may appear to be significant losses, of the eight debaters alive in semis at last year’s state tournament, seven are returning:
Jules Ginsparg & Jack Hobbs
Ben Delsman & Sydney Roberts
Max Groznik & Ammas Tanveer
This promises an especially tough year of competition for everyone at the highest levels of Oregon Parli. That said, there is a certain group I’m confident will rise above the rest, filling out final rounds at major tournaments and constituting the majority of teams in the late out-rounds of state. The team that demands immediate attention is Lake Oswego GT, consisting of Max Groznik and Ammas Tanveer. I can speak from personal experience when I say these guys are the real deal, and I expect I’ll see a lot of them in finals this year, both in Parli and Extemp. I wouldn’t be surprised if they carry the standard of perennial powerhouse Lake Oswego to another school state championship. The school with the best chance to take that championship away from them is Cleveland, and they return Keegan Williams-Thomas, one half of the most hyphenated (and arguably best) team in the state last year. Given Cleveland’s past success and strong coaching staff, I have no doubt Keegan will find a new partner and pick up just where he left off. Speaking of strong debaters returning partnerless, Brielle Preskenis loses Fielding Picton, but also comes from Ashland, a historically strong debate school, so I’m sure we’ll see her in significant outrounds in the coming year. I had the good fortune to debate a younger Preskenis in octas at state last year, so perhaps we’ll see a Preskenis & Preskenis team in 2014-2015. They could even reuse the “Ashland PP” jackets. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our returning state champs, Jules Ginsparg and Jack Hobbs, who came from nowhere (actually Bend, but who’s keeping track) to walk away with the OSAA championship. This upcoming year is their chance to silence critics who cry “Fluke” and build a record of success, something I’m looking forward to fruition. Last and probably least, I might debate this year.
This promises to be one of the most exciting and competitive years Oregon Parli has seen in a long time; be sure to keep up with it here at Point of Information. I’ll keep you posted.
Ben Delsman debates for South Albany High School and is POI's Pacific Northwest editor and correspondent.