The Joel Barlow debate team earned its fifth consecutive first-place finish Saturday at New Canaan High School. It also had a record number of students qualify for the state finals. With a combined total of 30 trophies, the team has claimed a first-place finish in every regular season extemporaneous tournament.
Leading the Barlow varsity were juniors Sam Torchio and Henry Knight, who blazed through their preliminary rounds, finishing in second place. After a series of uninspiring constructive speeches, Barlow gave spirited rebuttals in favor of democracy. Torchio made a strong impression, asking the judges whether they would prefer living in a democracy like the United States or a dictatorship like Turkmenistan, where U.S.-supported dictators boil their own people alive.
Ultimately, Wilton took the round, capitalizing on a few unforced errors in cross-examination. Knight was the seventh-place speaker overall and Torchio was 10th.
Barlow's novices posted the most impressive achievements in the school's history. Sophomore star rookies Brendan Coppinger and Nicolo Marzaro were the first-place novice team for the third time this season. The two have earned a total of nine trophies this year, including seven for first-place speaker or team awards. Coppinger earned the third-place speaker award and Marzaro followed in fourth.
If that were not remarkable enough, their wins make them the only Barlow pair to go undefeated for an entire regular season. If they can maintain the streak in the post-season, they stand to earn Barlow its first state title in novice competition.
Not far behind were sophomore novices Cormac Cummiskey and Maurizio Viselli, who were the third-place novice team. Viselli's first trophy lifted Barlows overall total of state finals-qualifying students to 15, beating the school record set in 2009.
Barlow's Kang brothers, David and Daniel, went 2-1. Seniors Max Malec and captain Matt Gombos also went 2-1. Max got a rare perfect score in his victory against Fairfield Warde in round 2 and was the eleventh-place speaker overall.
On March 26, Barlow will send 15 students to Wilton to contend for state titles in novice and varsity.
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