The Rutgers contingent at UMBC poses for the traditional team photo. Left to right: Kevin Parks, Stephen Yellin, Storey Clayton, Bhargavi Sriram, Krishna Kavi, Chris Bergman, Christine O'Donnell (UVa), Ashley Novak, Adam Bomeisl, and Nisha Kumar.

The Rutgers University Debate Union (RUDU) concluded its most successful semester in team history with its third tournament win in the last five tournaments. And this time, it was the dynamic young sophomore/freshman duo of Chris Bergman & Ashley Novak storming to victory.

A long list of accomplishments were secured at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) tournament:
Chris Bergman & Ashley Novak – Tournament Champions [winning finals] Krishna Kavi & Bhargavi Sriram – 8th place Team [break to quarterfinals] Stephen Yellin & Christine O’Donnell [UVa] – Novice Champions [winning novice finals] Nisha Kumar & Adam Bomeisl – 3rd novice Team
Krishna Kavi – 5th overall Speaker
Ashley Novak – 2nd novice Speaker

The tournament win qualified both Bergman & Novak for the National Championship at the end of the season in April. Rutgers now has qualified two teams for Nats, allowing the team to send two fully qualified teams and an additional free seed to the most important competition of the year. The UMBC results have enabled Rutgers to maintain its 4th overall ranking in the College of the Year (COTY) standings, trailing only Yale, Harvard, and Boston Universities.

Meanwhile, Krishna Kavi & Bhargavi Sriram made varsity elimination rounds for the first time in their careers, a big step for the two second-year debaters. The varsity speaker award was also the first for Kavi, who now joins Dave Reiss, Kyle Bomeisl, and Novak in the Speaker of the Year (SOTY) rankings. Additionally, Stephen Yellin’s victory in novice finals was his first novice elimination round in his third tournament ever.

Finally, the tournament victory should launch Bergman & Novak into the top ten of the Team of the Year (TOTY) rankings, where they will join Reiss & Bomeisl, who are now 4th.

This stellar performance sends Rutgers into the end of the first semester in its best position ever in the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) standings. The season continues next year with tournaments in New England starting in early January.

Rutgers' UMBC champions pose with their trophy and coach. Left to right: Ashley, Chris, Storey, and Stephen.

Postscript: Dave Reiss & Kyle Bomeisl attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) tournament this weekend as well. While they were listed as the 9th place team there, they should have advanced to quarterfinals as the 7th seed. MIT has publicly apologized for their tabulation error that caused this missed opportunity. Reiss & Bomeisl will be awarded compensation points in the rankings that restore them to third in the nation, though the opportunity to advance to semifinals and finals would have offered the chance at much more.