BASKING RIDGE, NJ- Ridge High School senior Katherine Kleinle achieved the championship title in Congressional Debate at the 2016 University of Kentucky’s Tournament of Champions.  Kleinle advanced over 123 competitors representing 20 states at the tournament. 

Director of the Ridge Forensics team, David Yastremski, states, “The Tournament of Champions is the first of the country’s three national championship tournaments.  The qualification process is very rigorous; students must excel at specific tournaments that have been sanctioned by the TOC committees as highly competitive and distinctive. 

Kleinle competes in Congressional Debate, where students argue over bills and resolutions dealing with the many issues that comes under the jurisdiction of the United States congress.   For this tournament, Kleinle had to prepare for 18 different pieces of legislation on topics including the military, economy, environment, health, and education. 

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Only one other Ridge student, Alexander Smyk ’08, previously won the tournament; although Ridge has had several finalists over their years of attendance.  Other Ridge students in attendance this year included seniors Vaikunth Balaji and Aria Dandawate, junior Shankar Krishnan, and sophomore Adit Roy. 

In addition, Kleinle recently won the Northeast region of the Ronald Reagan Great Communicator Debate Series.  In July, she will travel to the national final competition to be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California.   In this head-to-head debate format, Kleinle debated, ‘The United States primary system is an ineffective method for selecting the best possible candidates for president.”  Kleinle had to debate both sides of the resolution and went undefeated through eight rounds of competition.

Yastremski continues, “Katie’s performance this year has been truly exemplary including wins at Yale University, the New York City Invitational, George Mason University, The New Jersey Speech and Debate League Championships among others.”  Kleinle will also attend the National Catholic Forensic League Grand Nationals in Sacramento, CA during Memorial Day weekend and the National Speech and Debate Association National Championship in Salt Lake City, Utah in June.  After graduation, she plans on attending Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

The Ridge Forensics Team is an interscholastic speech, debate, and drama team that competes on the local, regional, and national levels.  Information on the team and schedule can be accessed at