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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Fall 2013 Alumni Newsletter

Posted by Brandon Evans on January 13, 2014

The Binghamton Speech and Debate Team has continued its success and brought it to new levels throughout the first half of the 2013-2014 season! Our current squad, consisting of both returning and new debaters, speakers, and coaches, has won tournaments, made elimination round appearances or placed in nearly every tournament we attended, and defeated several of the top competitors in the nation.


During the final 10 days of summer, the debate team assembled in the Quality Inn to prepare for the upcoming season. Our dedicated team worked from 9 AM to 8 PM every day to have discussions, read books, cut cards, assemble files, and have practice debates. Focusing our energy on what we have historically been the best at, the coaching staff taught us new ways of implementing and theorizing the Kritik. It is at pre-season where we were first coached by the legendary William Shanahan, who taught us much about philosopher Giorgio Agamben, among many other things. This is not to say that we didn't get plenty of topic specific education; returning coach Robert Glass did an extensive analysis of the history of war powers in the West, from The Treaty of Westphalia to the seemingly never-ending "War on Terror". All the while, Joe Leeson-Schatz continued his strong history of leadership by both contributing to all of these discussions and making sure we used our time efficiently without even needing a pre-determined schedule (It's less authoritarian that way).

Oh, and don't forget the speed drills! The joy of cacophony early in the morning of day one.

Northeast Regional Opener

The team hosted the regional opener here at Binghamton, bringing in 148 policy debate competitors and many others in Worlds. In order to help meet the judging demands, varsity team members Maneo Choudhury, Daniel Friedman, Philip George, and Trevor Reddick dropped out of the Open division to judge Novice and JV. Brandon Evans & Dhruv Sehgal, and Raul Jesus Cepin & Anna Pinchuk cleared in the Open division, but did not compete in elimination rounds as they agreed not to before the tournament to help run the event on Day 3. Raul also received 3rd speaker. In Novice, Skylar Buono and Jesse Smith won the tournament! Jesse also received 1st speaker by nearly three whole points! Jesse is now ranked the highest Novice speaker in the country.

2013 Northeast Regional Opener
Binghamton and Cornell preparing for Novice finals, representing the first all Bearcat coaching staff squaring up against each other in finals. Binghamton ended up victorious.


Rochester Brandon Evans and Maneo Choudhury posing with their speaker awards.

Coach Robert Glass and four debaters travelled to compete in the Open division of The University of Rochester Brad Smith Debate Tournament the week after the opener.

After two long days of debate, Maneo Choudhury and Brandon Evans ended in semi-finals on a 2-1 decision for NYU.

Brandon also received 3rd speaker, and Maneo received 6th speaker.


Kentucky Raul Jesus Cepin and Anna Pinchuk holding their double-octofinals trophy.

In a Binghamton first, we made it to the elimination rounds of the Kentucky College Tournament, an event bringing in 148 teams containing the best in the nation!

Raul Jesus Cepin and Anna Pinchuk won 5 out of their 8 rounds, defeating fellow double-octofinalist Fresno HT in their break round.

They finished their amazing performance against 8th seed Oklahoma CL in double-octofinals, dropping on a highly respectable 4-1.

Raul also received 18th speaker, placing above 278 competitors.


JMU / GMU From left to right: Adam Brenner, Faseeh Ahmed, David Kane, Itka Safir, Jared Skwiersky.

The speech portion of our team made their debut at a two-part tournament occuring at both James Madison University and George Mason University.

The team expanded their usual repertoire of Extemp, Impromptu, and Informative / Persuasive Speaking, to branch off into the world of events including Prose and Dramtic Interpretation.

While at the tournament, they were assisted by David Kane, a Binghamton Speech Team alumni who frequently judges and coaches at speech tournaments near where he lives to help support the team.

West Point

West Point Benjamin Lesnewski and Joseph Warren winning their double-octofinal round.

Returning to D8, the Bearcats make an admirable show at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

In the Open Division, Trevor Reddick and Dhruv Sehgal make it to semi-finals, dropping to Vermont BB after walking over Maneo Choudhury and Brandon Evans in quarter-finals. Trevor Reddick received 1st speaker, Philip George received 7th speaker, and Raul Jesus Cepin received 8th speaker.

In Novice, Melody Ma and Jesse Smith make it to finals to drop to George Mason University on a 2-1. Jesse Smith also received 2nd speaker. In addition, Benjamin Lesnewski and Joseph Warren made it to and won their first elimination round against West Virginia.


Harvard Daniel Friedman and Philip George prep during day one.

Three teams travelled to Bill Shanahan's home state of Massachusetts to compete in the Harvard Debate Tournament.

In arguably the hardest tournament of the semester, Dhruv Sehgal & Trevor Reddick won three rounds, and both Daniel Friedman & Philip George and Maneo Choudhury & Brandon Evans won two.


While the varsity squad took a break between Harvard and Wake, Robert Glass and two teams went to compete in the Clarion University Autumn Debate Tournament in JV. Competing in a tough bracket, Skylar Buono and Jesse Smith went 3-3, even though they are both novices!

From left to right: Masakazu Kurihara, Jason Smith, Skylar Buono, Jesse Smith.

Seton Hall

The speech team assembled again at Seton Hall University to end up winning several awards. Jacob Dorfman was ranked 6th in Persuasive Speaking, 6th in Sales Impromptu, and 7th in Extemporaneous Speaking, while Jared Skwiersky placed 5th in Impromptu.

Seton Hall
Jared Skwiersky and Jacob Dorfman holding a few of their many awards from the tournament.

Wake Forest

Wake Trevor dresses in drag in inspiration of Jasbin Puar's "Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times".

Finishing our national travel for the semester, we qualified and sent three teams to the 2013 Franklin R. Shirley Classic At Wake Forest.

Trevor Reddick and Dhruv Sehgal returned strong, going 4-4. New partnerships Maneo Choudhury & Anna Pinchuk and Brandon Evans & Philip George both won three rounds.


Monmouth Every partnership leaves with a trophy!

We had an amazing showing in all divisions at the Jersey Shore Invitational at Monmouth University.

Trevor Reddick and Dhruv Sehgal won the Open division on a 3-0 against the United States Military Academy after walking over Daniel Friedman and Philip George in semi-finals. We took almost half of the speaker awards: Trevor was 2nd, Dhruv was 5th, Dan was 7th, and Brandon Evans was 10th.

In JV, Benjamin Lesnewski and Jesse Smith went 3-3, even though both are novices and this was Ben's third tournament ever! Masakazu Kurihara and Jason Smith made it to quarter-finals, dropping on a 2-1 to CUNY. Jason was 4th speaker and Jesse was 6th.

In Novice, Melody Ma made it to quarter-finals in her third tournament ever, swing debating Thomas Schmidt from Wilkes. After receiving 3rd speaker and defeating NYU on a 2-1, the hybrid dropped on a 2-1 against West Virginia. This marked the end of Melody's first and last semester as a policy debater, but now that she has graduated, she hopes to come back and judge!


USC Raul Jesus Cepin and Lenny Herrera preparing for their final round of the swings against Pepperdine, which they ended up winning.

The first of the two California swings, a tournament at the University of Southern California, was the debut of Binghamton CH, consisting of Raul Jesus Cepin and Lenny Herrera (formerly of Towson). They started their partnership off strong, going 4-2 at a national tournament, but sadly not clearing on speaker points.

In addition, both Trevor Reddick & Dhruv Sehgal, and Brittney Bleyle & Brandon Evans went 3-3, the latter of which defeated the top partnership from Emory (JS) who at the time was ranked 18th in the nation!


The team continued its success in the second swing. Raul Jesus Cepin & Lenny Herrera, Brittney Bleyle & Brandon Evans, and Trevor Reddick & Dhruv Sehgal all won three rounds. None of our other three teams left without a win, including Jason Smith and Jesse Smith, a new partnership, the former of which only competed in regional JV tournaments prior, and the latter of which is novice eligible.

In addition, after the conclusion of their successful swing together, Brittney Bleyle and Brandon Evans got engaged! This marks the first time two Binghamton debaters have gotten engaged during a debate tournament. The team wishes them the best of luck in life and can't wait for the wedding.

A totally not staged photo of the proposal.

Our team is determined to finish our season strong, aiming to send between one and three teams to the National Debate Tournament. None of this could be possible without our supporters who have consistently donated to us year after year, especially our alumni. As you may know, our budget is much smaller than many other teams in our region. One of our rivals spends over ten times more on travel than our entire budget.

As such, we ask that you make a Donation to our team. Any amount of support can be the difference between new hights of success nationally and cutting whole tournaments. Our coaching staff is already accepting as little pay as possible to ensure that we can continue to devote resources towards both our Varsity squad and lower divisions. Please make your contribution today. Also make sure to Like Us On Facebook and show your Bearcat Pride!


Thank you for sharing in this article, I can a lot and could also be a reference I hope to read the next your article update - Mas Brey on November 26, 2018 at 09:49PM EST
Alumni news always make me happy. Thanks so much! - Margaret58 on November 20, 2016 at 04:25PM EST
Kentucky seems really nice for me. I like that guy. - Margaret1997 on November 13, 2016 at 09:08AM EST

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