Two Big Wins for Debate and, by the Way, a State Title

Only in Stratford debate would a state championship rank among a team’s lesser achievements for the year.

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Senior Hemanth Sanjeev (left) poses with sophomore Dylan Ogle (right) before a tournament.

Senior Hemanth Sanjeev and sophomore Dylan Ogle captured another title at the state debate tournament on January 18 at Mercer University, with Ogle winning 1st speaker and Sanjeev taking 2nd speaker.

In addition to Sanjeev and Ogle, Stratford’s second team at the tournament — junior Tolu Sogade and sophomore Robert Clark — were the runners-up. Clark was named 5th speaker, and Sogade was named 4th speaker.

Both teams “closed out” the tournament, meaning both teams won their first two rounds.

“Winning state was great. It’s been a consistent consecutive title for the team for a long time. Winning it this last time in the GISA made it even more special. This was the last year we are competing in GISA state. Next year, we will be with GCFA debate with Westminster, Pace, and all those Atlanta schools. It’ll be a really big challenge, but something I and the rest of the team are looking forward to,” Clark said.

For the second year in a row, the team also won the elite Pace Round Robin in Atlanta. The team won 10 out of 12 ballots after six rounds of debating, with each debate scored by two judges. IMG_3017

Sanjeev was named 1st speaker — an honor he also took home at last year’s tilt.

“The competition at Pace was really tough, but we managed to pull through in the end I was surprised and truly honored to learn that I was named 1st speaker. It was an incredible moment in my life,” Sanjeev said of the win.

Having secured a state championship and a win at the Pace Round Robin, the team notched yet another win at the most reputable debate in the southeast, the Barkley Forum for High Schools, held at Emory University.

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Sophomore Robert Clark (left) and junior Tolu Sogade prep for a debate.

Both teams — Sogade/Clark and Ogle/Sanjeev — competed, and after six rounds, Ogle and Sanjeev made it to the final five. Ogle and Sanjeev then took out other highly-ranked teams on their way to a 25-4 decision.

Stratford also won the Barkley Forum tournament two years ago, and Stratford is the only school to have won the event twice.

Sanjeev also was named top speaker for the second time at this tournament out of almost 200 students. Adding to the list of impressive feats, Ogle is only one of two sophomores to ever make it to the final round, let alone be on the winning team. The other sophomore? Hemanth Sanjeev.

“It was neat,” Ogle said, “Winning the Barkley Forum was a once in a lifetime moment that I’ll never forget. Hemanth is a great partner and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to debate with him in the finals.”