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2020-21 National Points Race, January Update: Rollins, Dharmapurikar, Cai, Morganstein, Kind, Hering Emerge As Victors From Crowded Month

Welcome to the fifth monthly updates on the standings and tournament results for the 2020-21 National Points Race! This edition features the results from the Montgomery Bell Academy Southern Bell Forum, the Sunvitational, the James Logan MLK Invitational, the Cavalier Invitational, the Cavalier Challenge, the Barkley Forum, and the Marshall Speech Spectacular.

January was, by far, the busiest month of the National Points Race, with eight different points-earning competitions being hosted from varying locations and with different sizes. All tournaments will be gone over chronologically, beginning with the MBA Southern Bell Forum, followed by the Sunvitational, the James Logan MLK Invitational, the Cavalier Invitational, the Cavalier Challenge, the Barkley Forum, and finally, the Marshall Speech Spectacular.

Every year, the Montgomery Bell Academy hosts in Nashville, Tennessee what is widely considered the most prestigious extemp tournament of the year: the Southern Bell Forum. Sixteen competitors are invited to compete in ten rounds, where four competitors fight head-to-head, featuring unconventional questions and lots of cross-examination. This year, the MBA tournament was held online, but it nonetheless managed to put the country’s best extempers in new scenarios and put their skills to the test. Emerging victorious is Katherine Rollins of the Potomac School (VA), who earns a whopping 1600 points for the National Points Race. Behind her is previous #1 rank Pranav Pattathunaduvil of Plano West Sr. High School (TX) who falls to second both for the tournament and for the season. Rounding out the highly coveted Top 6 at the Southern Bell Forum is Kush Narang of Bellarmine College Prep (CA) in third, McKinley Paltzik of the Phoenix Country Day School (AZ) in fourth, Charles Hou of Plano West Sr. High School (TX) in fifth, and Krishna Sanaka of the Hawken School (OH) in sixth.

While the MBA does not recognize 7th-16th place finishers as anything other than “Participants”, they will all be receiving 700 points and recognition here for their MBA performances: Katelyn Cai of BASIS Scottsdale (AZ) in 7th, Angela Wang of Plano West Sr. HS in 8th, Ananth Veluvali of Edina HS (MN) in 9th, Ethan Jiang of Seven Lakes HS (TX) in 10th, Mukta Dharmapurikar of Durham Academy (NC) in 11th, Peter Alisky of Smoky Hill HS (CO) in 12th, Veeravikash Giritharan of Eastview HS (MN) in 13th, Gabriel Frank-McPheter of Gabrielino HS (CA) in 14th, Ashok Ramkumar of Bellarmine College Prep (CA) in 15th, and Jishnu Basu of Plano Senior HS (TX) in 16th. Congratulations to all!

The weekend afterward was the Sunvitational, typically held in Davie, Florida. A Tier 4 tournament, Dharmapurikar championed her second tournament of the year after the UK Season Opener in September, earning 600 points. In second was Daniel Kind of Lake Highland Preparatory School (FL), while Antonina Clementi of Teurlings Catholic High School (LA) finished third. In fourth place was Michelle Liu of Ardrey Kell High School (NC), who beat out Marc Zavarro of Western High School (FL) in fifth and Shriya Bhat of Plano East Senior High School (TX) in sixth. Overall, the Southeast defended their territory well, claiming five of six finalist positions in one of their biggest regional tournaments.

Semifinalists, each earning 125 points, include Jason Hu of Strath Haven (PA), Kyle Letterer of Jasper (TX), Nick Chen of James B. Conant (IL), Praveen Kumar of Hawken (OH), Ethan Jiang, and Jack Ververis of Trinity Prep (FL).

The following weekend, two major tournaments were held: the Cavalier Invitational at Durham Academy in North Carolina, and the MLK Invitational at James Logan High School in California. At the Cavalier Invitational – which was new this year, and thus treated as a Tier 5 tournament – Katherine Rollins reasserted her circuit dominance by championing the tournament, beating out Michelle Liu by four ranks. In third place was Peter Alisky; fourth was Mary Courtney Finn of the Battle Ground Academy (TN), fifth was Ella Marshall of the NSU University School (FL), and sixth was Serena Klebba of the Isidore Newman School (LA).

Rollins also championed the Extemp Challenge, a new and unconventional round robin authored by Durham Academy. She beat out Mukta Dharmapurikar for second at her home school; Peter Alisky finished third and will receive points under our round-robin tiering system, even if the tournament did not formally acknowledge him as a runner-up. We would also like to congratulate Ethan Jiang, Daniel Kind, and Serena Klebba for participating.

Semifinalists (but without points) are Jiang, Kind, Ververis, George Lefkowicz of Henry W. Grady (GA), Emma Pereda of NSU (FL), and Sydney Carroll of Battle Ground Academy (TN).

Across the country, at the James Logan MLK Invitational, typically hosted in Union City, California, a host of West Coast extempers showed their chops. Championing the tournament in International Extemp was Katelyn Cai, who beat out four Bellarmine College Preparatory students in the final round: Majid Shabbeer, who took second, Ryan Alappatt, who took third, Oliver Owen, who placed sixth, and Nihaar Charagulla, who finished seventh (and will not earn points). The only other extempers in the round were Aindri Patra from Saratoga High School (CA) in fourth and Cara Wilson from the Westridge School (CA) in fifth.

Meanwhile, in National (United States) Extemp, Josh Morganstein of Miramonte High School (CA) emerged victorious, closing out against Owen Thompson of Bellarmine College Preparatory (CA) who placed second. Gabriel Frank-McPheter placed third, alongside teammate and sixth-place finisher Luccia Yacoub of Gabrielino High School (CA), sandwiching another pair of teammates – Eric Lee and Alex Zhang of Monta Vista High School (CA), who placed fourth and fifth respectively. Rounding out the final (and without points) is William Chien of the Harker School (CA).

IX semifinalists (but without points) are Abby Wallach of Miramonte (CA), Siya Sharma of Monte Vista (CA), Nathan Tamkin of George Washington (CO), Daniel Candia of Gabrielino (CA), Atmaja Patil of Monta Vista (CA), Tyler Pineda of Bellarmine College Prep (CA), and Yacoub. USX/NX semifinalists (also without points) are Anthony Reynolds of Bellarmine College Prep (CA), Theodore Gercken of College Prep (CA), Brennan Lee of Jasper (TX), Olivia Yang of Westwood (TX), Mira Bali of Dougherty Valley (CA), Sruti Peddi of BASIS Scottsdale (AZ), and Kevin Hammill of Claremont (CA).

After a weeklong break, the National Points Race returned back to full swing with two final tournaments for the month: the Barkley Forum, hosted by Emory in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Marshall Speech Spectacular, hosted by Marshall Senior High School and Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota.

At Barkley, Daniel Kind avenged his falling short of Mukta Dharmapurikar at Sunvite, narrowly beating her to claim his first title of the 2020-21 season. In third was Katelyn Cai, followed by Michelle Jin of the Harker School (CA). She beat Michelle Liu, who was making her third final round appearance in the month of January alone, on recips. Krishna Sanaka placed sixth to close out the final round.

Semifinalists, each earning 125 points, include Sinan Kassim of NSU (FL), William Chien, Serena Klebba, Kyle Letterer, Laurel Holley of Riverside (SC), and Theodore Gercken.

Finally, at the smallest tournament of the month, the Marshall Speech Spectacular, Alli Hering of Eastview High School (MN) took home the top prize at her first competition of the year, beating out MBA invitees Ananth Veluvali and Veeravikash Giritharan, who took second and third, respectively. Eastview closed out the rest of the round, as well, with Faye Zhang, Akshara Molleti, and Rhea Rajvansh – all teammates with Herring and Giritharan – placing fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively.

The final tournaments before a large lull in the competitive calendar arrive in February – the Stanford Invitational, along with the Cal Invitational and the Harvard National Tournament a week later, both of which are some of the largest tournaments in the country. Who performs well next month will determine our points race’s top rankings before the final national tournaments of the season begin!

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