Debate team headed to nationals


Amelia Davidson

The debate team standing with their National Qualifier plaques. This is McDaniel’s second time qualifying for nationals.

The debate team is celebrating big accomplishments after their latest tournament on Feb. 11. McDaniel swept out the competition, taking both the champion and runner-up trophies, sending two of our debate teams to Nationals. 

Schools around the country are competing to make it to the 2023 Urban Debate National Championship (UDNC), which will be held in person this year in Dallas, Texas. Stakes were high at Reynolds High School, as McDaniel, Reynolds, Franklin, Centennial and Parkrose all competed for one of the two available spots at the tournament. 

With three strong McDaniel teams in the competition–juniors Anika and Sidrah Schramm, junior Meredith Gifford and senior Keegan Martin, and junior Caden Berg and Senior Isaac Pedersen–the teams had high hopes for a National Qualifier title. 

After each team completed their four debate rounds, teams Gifford/Martin and Berg/Pedersen both came out undefeated while team Schramm was able to secure a third place spot in the tournament. 

In the end, it was a total sweep of National Qualifier titles for the debate team with team Berg/Pederson taking first place and team Gifford/Martin earning the runner-up prize. Both groups will be flying out to Nationals at the end of March. 

“I’m excited about actually being able to go. I made it to Nationals last year, but it was just online,” Martin said, “so Nationals was in my living room, which was decidedly less exciting.”

On top of securing a spot at Nationals, Gifford and Martin were titled first and second best speakers of the tournament. Winning a title like first speaker was a personal goal Gifford had set for herself when she joined the team this past fall. 

“I was very proud of myself. Winning first speaker was one of my goals for this year and I achieved it,” Gifford explained. “I feel pretty good about it.”

This will be the second time McDaniel is going to Nationals. Last year, McDaniel teams were also successful in closing out National Qualifiers. Debate coach Derek Heath admires his team for successfully doing this for the second year in a row. 

“It is difficult to follow up a year as successful as last year was, and so I’m unbelievably proud of the kids for doing it two years in a row,” Heath said. 

Despite this only being McDaniel’s second time at Nationals, the teams are feeling confident that they will be prepared and ready to compete when the time comes. 

“I hope we can show the rest of the nation how good McDaniel is,” Gifford said.