Jesuit Dallas Debate began the calendar year posting a pair of top 10 finishes at the Billy Tate Southern Bell Forum hosted by Montgomery Bell Academy tournament in Nashville, Tenn., and the 2017 Coppell Cowboy Classic. Seniors Jake LoRocco and Emmanuel Ruiz finished ninth overall in Nashville, while the teams of sophomore Jack Moore and senior Zach Watts, sophomores Jack Griffiths and Riler Holcombe, and sophomores Ashik Amar and Gio Ferrer-Falto all tied for fifth place at Coppell.
At the Southern Bell Forum, which is considered the Wimbledon of high school debate, LoRocco and Ruiz finished the preliminary rounds with a 4-2 record, posting wins over teams from Peninsula (Calif.), University School of Nashville, Bellarmine Prep (Calif.), and Greenhill. The team, which was seeded 12th heading into finals, lost to Glenbrook North (Ill.). Seniors Beomhak Lee and Alandro Valdez earned the 18th seed at MBA with wins over teams from Wayzata (Minn.), University of Chicago Lab School, and Niles West (Ill.), but only the top 16 teams advanced to the elimination rounds.
LoRocco and Ruiz’s performance marked the best finish by a Jesuit Dallas team at MBA since 2011. Hugh Alexander and Chris Madden won this prestigious tournament in 1985, while current Jesuit assistant coach Ryan Gorman and Sullivan McCormick finished third in 2011, and current faculty member John Hill and his partner closed ninth in 2008.
At Coppell, where 20 teams from the metroplex competed, all three Jesuit teams finished with 2-1 records, securing wins over teams from Greenhill, Colleyville Heritage, McKinney Boyd, and Prosper. With their fifth place finishes, all three teams earned two of the 12 points needed to qualify for the Texas Forensic Association State Championships.