HARRISON, N.Y. -- The Harrison High School Debate Team won the coveted Princeton University National Championship, with 11 students capturing awards. The team competed in a field of 134 Varsity Debaters from 10 states and for the second time in the past six years Harrison won the Varsity division.
Senior Raffi Piliero won first place in the Varsity division, winning the tournament without losing a single ballot. Raffi was the tournament’s top seed and second place speaker; he was 6-0 in preliminary rounds, and won each elimination round on a unanimous decision. This tournament marks the fifth championship Raffi has won this season and he has the largest number of bids to the Tournament of Champions of any debater nationwide. As such, Raffi is currently the No. 1 ranked Lincoln-Douglas debater in the country according to the National Speech and Debate Association.
Senior Matt Zinman placed seventh at Princeton when he was eliminated by Raffi who advanced based on seeding. With the outstanding showing at this national tournament, Matt has completed his qualifications for the Tournament of Champions and is the No. 9 ranked Lincoln-Douglas debater in the country.
Harrison juniors Lauren Cole and Carl Spana placed in the top 32 and Lauren was the tournament’s 10th place speaker. Junior Brian Siegel and sophomore Eli Lapkin placed in the top 40.
The Princeton novice division, which featured first-year competitors, showcased 92 debaters from around the country. Freshman Matthew Repecki was the second place novice speaker and reached octo-finals (top 16), Daiana Djangaracheva was the 4th place speaker, Eva Rogers was the 10th place speaker, and Ethan Voskoff and Ava Zinman reached the top 32.
The Harrison Debate team earned membership in the National Speech and Debate Association’s prestigious 100 club, ranking them among the top 23 percent of schools nationwide. This significant recognition is all the more impressive given that Harrison’s team does not have a speech team component and is dwarfed by the size of most other school’s Speech and Debate teams.