December 3, 2023
Congratulations to the MPA Debate Team on a history-making performance at the Classic State Debate Festival. Forty-six students represented the school, and for the first time in its history, Mounds Park Academy won the team sweepstakes award. This award is based on the top two performances across each of the three divisions of competition—novice, junior varsity, and varsity. This win is a testament to the countless hours of research, thinking, and practice these students contributed throughout the season.
We call the tournament the Classic Debate Championships in novice and junior varsity. In the novice division, the teams of Sidd Sastry and Kelvyn Boddipalli, Amila Avdic and Ayub Barre, and Myah Hoeschen and Nicole Kim advanced to the octafinal round. The teams of Josh Murr and Hannabella Li and Carter Short and Nico Bergh advanced to the quarterfinal round. And in a commanding performance, the team of Ash Klann and Victoria Lin won the entire division. In the junior varsity division, the teams of Mari Minear and Navreen Biring and Paul Fertig and Zainab Lodhi advanced to the quarterfinal round, while the team of Truman Wilgocki and Soren Winikoff advanced to the semifinal round. And the team of Greta Hanson and Rowan Mulrooney finished second in an extremely competitive final round.
The varsity division is called the Minnesota State High School League Classic Debate State Festival, as the MSHSL sponsors the awards for this event. Before we get to the team results, we want to applaud four debaters who were recognized with all-state debate honors for their excellence over the entire season: Meiran Carlson, Maggie Banks-Hehenberger, Akshay Somayajula, and Ben Murr. Additionally, the varsity team won the Challenge Cup, which is an award for the best season-long performance for a varsity team. In the tournament itself, MPA shined. The team of Annika Binstadt and Zoya Nayak made it all the way to the final round of the tournament, a second-place finish that is a remarkable achievement for these two juniors. And, the team of Akshay Somayajula and Ben Murr were crowned state champions, never losing a single round in the entire tournament.
A special thank you to all the alums who judged and coached for the team this season. In particular, alums Meg Wilkening and Ellie Quam deserve special recognition. These two women have spent countless hours listening to speeches, reading cases, and thinking about arguments to ensure that over 90 students can learn as much as possible from the rigors of competing in high school debate. More importantly, they gave each one of those students an opportunity to have a voice. They are a testament to what we hope our MPA alums will do when they go out into the world. And a very special congratulations to coaches Katie Murr and Mike Vergin.