Millburn Forensics Team Enjoys Success at National Tournaments

Second place Varsity Public Forum finishers Steven Yaffe (left) and Saachi Gupta (right) pose with their trophies from the Harvard Invitational Credits: Steven Yaffe

MILLBURN, NJ - After a tiring but exciting week, members of the Millburn High School Forensics team have a lot to be proud of. Competitors attended two national tournaments, the University of Pennsylvania Liberty Bell Classic, held from Feb. 16 to Feb. 18, and the prestigious Harvard University Invitational, which lasted throughout the Presidents’ Day weekend. At both tourneys, members succeeded in proving themselves worthy of national recognition.

At the Liberty Bell Classic, seniors Andrew Charette and Jonah Birnberg were the runners-up in Varsity Public Forum, followed by the junior-senior pairing of Medha Tandon and Sarah Gomez in octos. Freshman Cynthia Goldman made finals in Congress, while classmate Claire Hu reached double octofinals in novice Lincoln Douglas Debate. Christopher Li, a junior who advanced to octofinals in Varsity Lincoln Douglas, thought the tournament was an “enjoyable experience and excellent learning opportunity – especially for our freshmen, who did very well”. 

Up north in Boston, Millburn had its best showing in recent years at the Harvard Invitational, which is one of the largest and most competitive annual tournaments. Debate carried the team, led by seniors Saachi Gupta and Steven Yaffe who cemented their place as one of the top Varsity Public Forum teams in the country by coming second out of a pool of 289. Prior to the tournament, they had been invited to participate in the Public Forum Round Robin, composed of fourteen of the best teams in the nation. Similarly, senior Yang Yi competed in the Lincoln Douglas Round Robin, after which he broke to octofinals in the tournament itself. Other victories in debate included Matt Goodman and Tyler Levine advancing to semifinals in Varsity Public Forum, followed closely in quarters by juniors Nathaniel Schwamm and Luke Tolman and the senior-sophomore duo of Josh Bain and Sam Eglow. Benjamin Dantowitz, a competitor at Harvard, rightfully stated that it was “amazing how Millburn had four out of the sixteen octofinalists in Public Forum.” Freshman Wesley Hu rounded out the debate victories by advancing to semis in Junior Varsity Lincoln Douglas, while Junior Chase Harrison delivered the team’s sole speech victories by breaking to quarters in Extemporaneous Speech and semis in Original Oratory.

Overall, Millburn had a phenomenal weekend as it gained national awards that are undoubtedly some of the highest achievements attainable on the high school forensics circuit. Senior Steven Yaffe says that these awards signify how much the team has changed over the past few years. “When I attended my first national tournament during my Sophomore year, the goal of myself and my teammates was simply to advance into elimination rounds. Now Millburn’s goal has changed from merely breaking to winning, and our results at Harvard are a testament to how much better we have all become.” 

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