The Rutgers University Debate Union (RUDU) had its best overall speaking performance in team history this past weekend at the US Military Academy tournament at West Point. Chris Bergman finished as top speaker, eclipsing partner and second speaker Ashley Novak by one rank. The pair earned the top seed at the tournament by a wide margin with a 5-0 record and a dominant 264 speaker points. The previous best speaking weekend for RUDU was last year at Maryland, when Dave Reiss finished 2nd and Kyle Bomeisl 4th. The top speaker award for Bergman is only the second in RUDU history. His regular partner last year, Farhan Ali, won the first RUDU top speaker award at Middlebury last season.
Here are the official West Point results:
Chris Bergman & Ashley Novak – 5th Team
Chris Bergman – 1st Speaker
Ashley Novak – 2nd Speaker
Russell Potter – 10th Novice Speaker
With the finishes, Bergman and Novak should enter the top twenty and thirty respectively in the individual Speaker of the Year (SOTY) rankings. Boding impressively well for next year, Bergman will be 9th among non-seniors and Novak will be 4th among sophomores. The pair were also only the third team all season to finish 1-2 in the varsity speaker rankings at a tournament. A Yale team accomplished the feat at Brown and a Brandeis team did the same at Bryn Mawr.
Meanwhile, Potter took a novice speaker award at his fourth straight tournament and Rutgers extended its varsity-break streak to five weekends.
The team will flood the Franklin & Marshall tournament this year, site of the first varsity break for power RUDU team Reiss & Bomeisl two years ago. Reiss finished 14th in the SOTY rankings last year – a RUDU record now possibly in jeopardy with the recent surge by Bergman, who currently stands at 20th.