Penn Debate Team State Champions!

Posted on January 29, 2024

Penn’s Debate Team was triumphant Saturday, January 27 at the 2024 ISSDA State Debate Tournament winning Penn’s first Debate Team Championship ever! 

The ISSDA awarded Penn Senior Noah Shafer with the Bob Brittain Mental Attitude Award and a $500 scholarship!

Speech & Debate results

Penn beat out 25 other Indiana Schools competing in seven debate rounds to determine the finalists. 

Here are the Tournament results:

Octa Finalists: 

  • Bella Schaetzle and Chris Chapple- Policy
  • Amina Spahic and RebeccaWolter- Policy
  • Alex Wagler- Lincoln Douglas
  • Leah Wagner and Rayna Doland- Public Forum

Quarter Finalists: 

  • Leena Khan and Ava Lightburn- Policy Debate
  • Chris Chen- Lincoln Douglas
  • Ben Galiher, Mira Yaradi, Ishita Awasti, Sydney Herriman, Vicki Sanchez- World Schools

Semi Finalists: 

  • Ishita Masetty- Congress
  • Shayan Asafuadula- Congress
  • Sohan Patel- Congress

State-Runner Ups:

  • Bohdan Kolomiiets and Noah Schafer- Public Forum
  • Stanley Liew, Noah Shafer, Lana Ealdama, Jawad Siddique, Mia Helm- World Schools
  • Sarah Rooney- Lincoln Douglas
  • Grant Spadafore- Congress

State Champions: 

  • Sarah Ahmed and Lynn Chung- Policy Debate
  • Akul Bhambani- Lincoln Doulgas

In all five events, Penn was able to place in the top two in the entire state. The final round of Lincoln Douglas debate (which is the most competitive event) featured Penn vs. Penn, Sarah Rooney vs. Akul Bhambani. Akul won by a 3-2 decision with the judges.

The students are getting more than trophies to commemorate their wins. As per an agreement with the Team Captains made at the National Debate Tournament last June, Team Coach Mr. Jeremy Starkweather will allow the team captains to shave his head. It will happen after school at Team Practice on Tuesday, January 30. Click here to see the pictures and video!

The Policy Champions receive a traveling trophy that has existed since 1928. The last time the trophy was in Penn High School was when it was won by Coach Starkweather when he himself was a Penn Senior Debate student back in 2013. 

2013 Jeremy Starkweather student win

This is how many teams Penn students had to beat out:

  • 23 Policy Debate Teams
  • 46 Public Forum Teams
  • 64 Lincoln Douglas Debaters
  • 59 Congress Debaters and
  • 27 World Schools Teams

Each competitor is guaranteed three preliminary rounds of debate but must win four out of their six judges’ ballots to advance to the single elimination bracket. Only the top 16 teams advance to this stage of the tournament. The Penn high school team advanced 16 out of the 18 entries, making this an incredible team effort. From that point on, each round had a three judge panel. A team must win 2 out of 3 possible ballots to continue to move through the tournament. 


Last Modified April 24, 2024