Debate Impresses with Three Top 10 Finishes at State Championships

Although a state title proved elusive for this year’s debate program, Jesuit Dallas showcased an unmatched degree of depth as the only school in Texas to qualify five teams for the elimination rounds and a staggering three teams in the top 10 at the 2017 Texas Forensic Association (TFA) State Debate Championships. The teams of seniors Beomhak Lee and Alandro Valdez, and Emmanuel Ruiz and Zack Watts finished in a tie for fifth, with the duo of senior Jake LoRocco and sophomore Jack Moore closing in ninth overall.

Junior Ben Miller and senior Greg Tan, along with sophomores Jack Griffith and Riler Holcombe finished 17th, as all 10 debaters earned all-state honors. The performance marked the first time since 2007 that Jesuit Dallas could boast 10 all-state debaters in the same season. With over 120 teams competing, TFA serves as the largest and most competitive state tournament in the country. Jesuit Dallas was one of only two schools statewide to qualify six teams for the championships, a testament to both the program’s depth and skill.

Griffith and Moore used their run at states to launch another impressive performance one week later at the 2017 First and Second Year National Championships hosted by Woodward Academy in Atlanta. The duo finished in a tie for ninth in the second-year division, while freshmen Javier Arroyo and Garrett Nagorzanski took ninth in the first-year division. In addition to the team awards, Jesuit’s contingent grabbed six of the top 20 individual speaker awards (Second Year: Moore, 6th; Griffiths, 16th; First Year: Adam Hall, 3rd; Arroyo, 4th; Nagorzanski, 12th; and Thomas Cluck, 18th).

Despite not competing, LoRocco and Lee made an imprint at the National Championships by being presented with an Outstanding Student Judge Award, which recognizes the best judging and mentoring by a varsity debater assisting at the tournament.

Jesuit Dallas Debate will cap its season on April 8-10, as three teams will make the trek to Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, to compete in the 2017 National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA) National Championships.

Alistair Keggen ’17 and Felix Kimbrell ’17 Receive President’s Volunteer Service Award

Jesuit Dallas seniors Alistair Keggen and Felix Kimbrell were named as recipients of the 2017 President’s Volunteer Service Award. The award, which recognizes middle and high school students across America for outstanding volunteer service, was granted by the Presidential Spirit of Community Awards program on behalf of the President’s Council on Service and Participation.

“Demonstrating civic responsibility through volunteerism is an important part of life,” remarked JoAnn Bartoletti, Executive Director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. “Honorees such as Alistair and Felix practice a lesson we hope all young people, as well as adults, will emulate.”

In addition to receiving a certificate of achievement marked by the Seal of the President of the United States, Keggen and Kimbrell received a signed letter of congratulations from President Barack Obama. Volunteer activities for each of the recipients were judged on criteria including personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth.

The community service and social justice program at Jesuit Dallas is one of the most comprehensive in the nation. Although all students are required to complete a pre-determined number of hours to graduate, nearly every student far exceeds the minimum. This past year, students worked with over 100 different service organizations and totaled over 100,000 hours of service both locally and abroad.

Busy Weekend for Debate Nets Five Top-10 Finishes and Sixth State Qualifying Team

Jesuit Dallas joined Austin Westwood as the only two schools across the state to qualify six teams to the Texas Forensic Association State Championships after an exciting weekend that saw 12 teams competing at two tournaments.

At the Royce City Invitational where 30 teams from the metroplex competed, the sophomore team of Jack Griffiths and Riler Holcombe earned third-place honors and became the sixth Jesuit Dallas team to qualify for the state tournament in March. Sophomores Ashik Amar and Giovanni Ferrer-Falto earned fifth place. 

At the Colleyville Heritage Invitational, which featured over 70 teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, and Florida, the team of seniors Jake LoRocco and Emmanuel Ruiz secured ninth-place honors in the varsity division. In the novice division, freshmen Javier Arroyo and Marshall Mann snagged second place with the freshmen duo of Thomas Cluck and Garrett Nagorzanski taking third overall.

Debaters Finish in Top 10 at Barkley Forum Debates

Seniors Jake LoRocco and Emmanuel Ruiz finished ninth overall at the Barkley Forum Debates at Emory University where the top 110 teams from over 25 states competed. In the preliminary rounds, LoRocco and Ruiz finished with a 4-2 record with wins over teams from University of Chicago Lab School, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Evanston (Ill.), and Niles West (Ill.).  The Jesuit duo defeated Greenhill in the first elimination round before losing to Montgomery Bell Academy from Nashville in the second elimination round. 

 The senior team of Beomhak Lee and Alandro Valdez also finished the prelims with a 4-2 record and earned the 35th seed with wins over teams from Cypress Bay (Fla.), Georgetown Day (D.C.), Montgomery Bell Academy (Tenn.), and Greenhill, but only the top 32 qualify for the elimination rounds.

The Barkely Forum Debates is one of the oldest and most historic tournaments in the country. Jesuit Dallas has competed in this tournament since becoming a member school in the Barkley Forum in the 1970s.

Debate Closes Out at Richardson; Clinches Three More Teams to State

Jesuit Dallas enjoyed a great weekend at the Richardson High School Invitational, closing out the tournament, while placing four teams in the top five, and qualifying three more teams into the field at the TFA State Championships. The teams of junior Ben Miller and senior Greg Tan and sophomores Jack Madden and Pete Weigman both reached the final round producing the close out of first and second place. The team of sophomore Jack Moore and senior Zach Watts earned third place and the team of sophomores Ashik Amar and Giovanni Ferrer-Falto earned fifth place. Almost 40 teams from the area competed in the tournament.

In the preliminary rounds, Moore and Watts, Miller and Tan, and Amar and Ferrer-Falto all finished with 3-0 records and Madden and Weigman finished with 2-1 record with wins over teams from Trinity Valley, Sachse, Ennis, Reedy, McKinney Boyd, Glen Rose, Colleyville Heritage, Mansfield Legacy, and Wylie.  Miller and Tan beat Boyd again in the first elimination round, Madden and Weigman beat the top seed Wylie, and Moore and Watts beat Midlothian.  Madden and Weigman beat Trinity Valley in the semifinals and Miller and Tan advanced over Moore and Watts in other semifinals for the close out.  Jesuit had nine teams competing at the tournament and all nine finished with a winning record. 

Jesuit has now qualified five teams for the state tournament in March. Austin Liberal Arts and Sciences and Austin Westwood are the only other two schools in the entire state to have qualified five teams thus far.

Jacob Palisch ’17 Announced as Finalist for Prestigious Davey O’Brien Scholarship

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, Jesuit Dallas senior Jacob Palisch was named one of five finalists for the 31st annual Davey O’Brien High School Scholarship, sponsored by Higginbotham and Southwest Bank. An award which recognizes the most outstanding high school senior student-athlete across the metroplex, Palisch and the remaining four nominees will attend the 10th annual Davey O’Brien High School Scholarship Luncheon at The Fort Worth Club on Jan. 24, where the award will be presented.

The Stanford University baseball commit and three-sport athlete was a University Interscholastic League (UIL) District 9-6A First Team selection for the reigning UIL 6A state champion Rangers, picking up the decision in the team’s 6-2 win over San Antonio Johnson in the title game.

Named a Junior All-American last June, Palisch threw two no-hitters during the season, including a 15-strikeout masterpiece against Highland Park in the first game of the UIL 6A Region II Quarterfinal. He closed the year with an 11-1 record, 0.64 earned run average and 117 strikeouts, while guiding the team to a top 10 national ranking for the second consecutive season.

On the gridiron, Palisch served as the team’s starting quarterback and punter in 2015 and 2016, and was named the UIL District 9-6A Player of the Year after both seasons. He ended his high school football career with 3,746 passing yards, 36 passing touchdowns, and 20 touchdowns on the ground while averaging 40.6 yards per punt.

Palisch helped lead Jesuit to back-to-back district titles for the first time in program history, as well as the highest state ranking in School history (No. 20). He scored the go-ahead touchdown in Jesuit’s 24-21 win over perennial state power Skyline on Oct. 2, 2015, snapping the Raiders’ 49-game district winning streak.

Earning UIL District 9-6A Second Team honors in basketball after the 2015-16 season, Palisch has appeared in 14 games for the Rangers this year, totaling 53 rebounds, 51 points and four blocks, while helping Jesuit build a 15-7 record heading into Friday’s bout against state-ranked No. 6 Skyline.

Off the playing surface, Palisch has excelled in the classroom, earning a 4.0 grade-point average. A National Merit Commended Scholar and AP Scholar with Honors, Palisch works with the Commit to Dallas early education literacy program as a teacher’s reading aide.

The other four finalists for the award are: Anna Connolly, a softball student-athlete from fellow UIL 9-6A member J.J. Pearce, Highland Park volleyball student-athlete Madeline Ngo, Vivian Weinman from Southwest Christian School, and soccer student-athlete Christopher Wines from Trinity Christian Academy.

Palisch will head to Fort Worth on Tuesday hoping to become the third student-athlete in Jesuit Dallas history to earn the Davey O’Brien award, following in the footsteps of Jesuit Hall of Famer Joel Sharp ’87 and Jeff Miller ’02.

Varsity Debate Earns Four Top 10 Finishes; Novices Close Out

Against over 40 area teams, the duo of seniors Beomhak Lee and Alandro Valdez earned fifth place honors at the Denton Guyer Invitational, and as a result qualified for the state tournament in March. Three additional varsity teams placed in the top 10, as sophomores Ashik Amar and Giovanni Ferrer-Falto also finished in a tie for fifth, while the teams of junior Greg Miller and senior Greg Tan and sophomores Logan Kim and Nico Wilson tied for ninth.  

In the novice division, the teams of freshmen Javier Arroyo and Garrett Nagorzanski and Thomas Cluck and Adam Hall closed out the tournament earning first and second, marking the first tournament win and the first close out for the novice team this year. The teams were a combined 7-1 in the prelims, and beat Greenhill, Colleyville Heritage, and Denton Guyer in the elimination rounds.   

Debate Opens 2017 with Four Top 10 Finishes

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.

Connor O’Neill Caps Record-Breaking Season at National Championships

Senior Connor O’Neill closed out one of the best cross country seasons in Jesuit Dallas lore after finishing 24th overall at the 2016 Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) on Saturday, Dec. 3 in Portland, Oregon. O’Neill logged the fifth best time from the South Region (16:05), and bested Jordan Brannan from Colts Neck High School (N.J.) by 1.6 seconds in securing the best finish at the national championships in program history.

O’Neill compiled an impressive resume during his senior campaign, totaling seven consecutive top-five finishes prior to nationals, including four individual wins. His postseason run included a dominating one-minute victory at the UIL 9-6A District Championships, a runner-up finish at the UIL Regional Championships, a sixth-place finish in the fastest state championship race in UIL history, and a top-six finish at the Nike South Regional Cross Country Championships.

A two-time all-state selection, O’Neill’s time of 15:04 at the UIL 6A State Championships marked the fastest performance by a Jesuit runner in the history of the state meet.

Debate Earns Top 10 Honors at Two State Tournaments

Nine varsity debate teams debated 46 times in two days at two state level tournaments and earned top-10 finishes and more state qualifying points at both. At the Creekview Invitational, where 30 teams from the area competed, the duo of sophomores Jack Madden and Pete Weigman, and Ethan Jackson and Chris Tran earned third-place honors, and the teams of sophomores Jack Griffiths and Riler Holcombe, and junior Ben Miller and senior Greg Tan took fifth place. At the University of Texas Invitational in Austin where over 100 teams from seven states competed, the team of seniors Beomhak Lee and Alandro Valdez earned ninth place and the teams of seniors Jake LoRocco and Emmanuel Ruiz, and sophomore Jack Moore and senior Zach Watts took 17th.   

At the Creekview tournament, all four teams that reached the elimination rounds were 3-0 in the preliminary rounds with wins over teams from Argyle, Coppell, Colleyville Heritage, Denton Guyer, Grapevine, Greenhill, McKinney Boyd, Saginaw, and St. Mark’s. Madden and Weigman lost to Coppell in the semifinals and Jackson and Tran lost to St. Mark’s in the other semifinal. In addition to the team awards, five debaters earned top-six individual speaker awards. Madden was named the tournament’s top speaker, with Griffiths (3rd), Weigman (4th), Holcombe (5th), and Tan (6th).

At the University of Texas tournament, Lee and Valdez finished the preliminary rounds with a 5-1 record with wins over teams from Austin Westwood, Round Rock, Victoria, and Caddo Magnet (La.). They beat Coppell in the first elimination round before losing to Hendrickson.  LoRocco and Ruiz, and Moore and Watts finished with a 4-2 record with wins over teams from Edmond (Okla.), Casaday (Okla.), Airline (La.), Houston Kinkaid, Hebron, Austin Westwood, and Austin Liberal Arts and Sciences before losing to Little Rock Central (La.) and Heritage Hall (Okla.) in the first elimination round.