OHS Debate Team hosts National Qualifying tournament, Cizdziel advances to nationals


Courtesy of Siena Cizdziel

The winners of the National Qualifying tournament smile and pose with their awards. OHS hosted the National Qualifying tournament on March 22-23.

Grace Logan, Sports Editor

OHS Speech and Debate team hosted the National Qualifying tournament last weekend for the state of Mississippi. The team had much success with senior Siena Cizdziel continuing to nationals.

“In each state, in each district, we have qualifying tournament in debate, in speech and interpretation events which is this coming weekend and there is one in congress which has already happened,” speech and debate teacher Barbara Lowe said. “In Mississippi, we try to have speech and interpretation in Hattiesburg, Congress is usually in the Jackson area and I volunteered for debate this year because I was like ‘hey we need to spread it out’. It worked out. We learned some things but it was good.”

It was the first qualifying tournament for Oxford to host. According to Lowe, hosting a tournament was more work than they realized.

“We run our own tournament in January, so I knew how to run a tournament but what we didn’t realize how complicated it was,” Lowe said. “You need event coordinator, planner, and I am the event coordinator along with teaching and coaching while whatever else it is I do in my life.  So I jumped from one thing to the next to the next, and so coordinating and recruiting judges is huge.

One major challenge that was prevalent for the team was the amount of judges for the tournament.

“I didn’t know that the Big Event at Ole Miss was on Saturday so instead of having the usual 75 or 80 Ole Miss Students, I think we had 13, that was bad, we did not have enough judges,” Lowe said. “So now I know to approach the Big Event and say hey keep us in mind for things that can be done. So there’s the judge organization, there’s the food organization. We don’t ever know how long this tournament will last so it can go on for a while.”

As for the team, the tournament had 11 schools with 80 participants in the four events: Policy Debate, Big Questions debate, Public Forum debate, and Lincoln/Douglas debate. Cizdziel placed second overall in Lincoln/Douglas debate.

“For this topic, I did research like a week before hand and then wrote my case a few days before hand,” Cizdziel said. “You just have to write arguments for a constructive speech at the beginning of each debate.”

Cizdziel, who will compete in the national competition in June in Dallas, was shocked to learn she had made it to the final round and to Dallas.

“I did not expect it at all. If you lose two rounds, you are out of the tournament, so I kept going and every round, so I was very shocked,” Cizdziel said. “Once I found out that I was top four, I was like ‘wow I did not expect this at all’, and I’ve gotten to quarterfinals but never finals.”

For Lowe, she was so happy for Cizdziel and knew she would do very well despite Cizdziel being nervous.

“I am really proud of Siena. She was stressed. She really didn’t want to compete to be honest,” Lowe said. “She was overwhelmed with all her college stuff and so much is happening in the spring but I said ‘Yes, you are, it is too late to drop’. I said ‘do your best and your best is pretty darn good’ and I was right.”

Along with Cizdziel, Anna Kang and Fawaz Ahmad placed fourth in the tournament and serve as alternates for the state of Mississippi. As for the rest of the debaters, Lowe said the tournament wouldn’t have run without the help of the entire team.

“The reason the tournament ran incredibility smoothly was their teammates. The other twenty kids were working,” Lowe said. “They did everything from setting up the rooms to directing people where they need to go to registering judges and helping in the judges’ lounge. There was a whole laundry list of things that have to get done.”