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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Speech & Debate Finishes Second Overall at Longhorn Classic Tournament

Courtesy of Shrey Birmiwal
Focused, Shrey Birmiwal ’25 prepares for his event at the Longhorn Classic debate tournament. Birmiwal and his partner Siyona Jain ’25 worked diligently to in hopes of garnering a victory in their event.

From Friday, Dec. 1, to Sunday, Dec. 3, the Speech & Debate team competed at the Longhorn Classic tournament at the University of Texas at Austin.

Debate competed against 130 schools across the country in varied styles of debate, including Lincoln Douglas, Policy Debate, Extemporaneous Speaking, and Public Forum. Debate emerged triumphant in all categories, with victories earned across grade levels and experience.

“[Longhorn Classic] is one of the largest tournaments of the season, attracting the best talent from across Texas and the Southern United States,” Speech & Debate President Ayush Tripathi ‘24 said. “We go every year since it’s right at home, and we’ve historically done well every year.”

In the novice Lincoln Douglas division, freshmen debaters Saanvi Mittal and Nandu Saranu placed first and sixth respectively. Seniors Aarav Mahesh and Akhilesh Pissay finished in the triple Octofinals of the varsity Lincoln Douglas division, meaning they were eliminated while 64 teams competed in 32 matches, six rounds before winners of the competition were announced.

“By lightening the mood and making [the debate]  more respectful and engaging, the judges gave me much higher speaker points,” Mittal said. “I didn’t know I could get an award for being nice, so that me really happy.”

In Policy Debate competitions, freshmen Nikhil Gupta and Raghav Laxminarasimhan finished second in the novice division. In the varsity Policy Debate division, Eric Zhu ‘24 finished seventh, and Pranav Balakrishnan ‘25 finished tenth. Seniors Madhavan Prasanna and David Li, along with sophomores Ethan Andrew and Aanya Ujjval, finished in the Octofinals of the division.

“I’m pretty proud of [placing seventh] but I think we did pretty bad in the actual elimination round,” Zhu said. “It’s kind of bittersweet.”

In the varsity Public Forum division, seniors Ava Dasari, Esha Venkat, Aamir Kutianawala, and Rishik Boddeti finished in the Octofinals, while sophomores Arjun Nair and Aadit Sharma finished in the double Octofinals of the same division.

“I felt really accomplished finishing as an Octofinalist,” Dasari said. “UT is a really hard and competitive tournament, so I’m glad we were able to make it that far. Our team’s hard work and effort paid off.”

In Extemporaneous Speaking, Anushka Gupta ‘26 won two Extemporaneous Tournament of Champions (ETOC) bids, which are qualifiers to a national tournament, and finished in the quarterfinals of two events. Arnav Maskey ‘26, meanwhile, finished in the quarterfinals of domestic extemporaneous speaking.

“This year, Westwood finished [in] second place out of 130 schools across the country,” Tripathi said. “Overall, a great showing by the Westwood debate team.”

Westwood Speech & Debate will compete in Dripping Springs on Friday, Dec. 8 and Saturday, Dec. 9.

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About the Contributor
Scott Seamon
Scott Seamon, Managing Editor
Class of 2025 When I'm not assisting a nationally awarded team of student journalists, you can find me representing Westwood students as a member of Round Rock ISD VOICE, the school district's student advisory committee!

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