From left: Elizabeth Bennett, Dustyn Beutelspacher, Nasim Salehitezangi, Nathan Glancy

Two Niles West High School debate teams recently made it to the elimination rounds of the National Speech and Debate Association’s National Championships in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and one was named the number two debate team in the country. Niles West seniors Nathan Glancy and Nasim Salehitezangi took second place after facing a team from Blue Valley Southwest High School in Kansas in the final round.

“This is the first time a team from Kansas has ever won the national tournament, and the Blue Valley Southwest team is incredibly talented, so we sincerely congratulate them,” said Head Debate Coach Eric Oddo.

Niles West seniors Elizabeth Bennett and Dustyn Beutelspacher qualified for elimination rounds after six preliminary rounds. They finished as one of the top 35 teams in the country. (One hundred and eighty-eight teams competed at the national policy debate tournament, which ran from June 18 to 22.)

Additionally, out of 376 debaters, Nasim Salehitezangi was awarded the 9th place speaker award.

Glancy and Salehitezangi will both be continuing their debate careers at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Beutelspacher will be continuing his debate career next year at the University of Texas in Dallas, and Bennett will be continuing hers at the University of Iowa.

“I could not have imagined the success this team would achieve when we restarted the program just eight years ago,” Oddo said. “This year saw the program reach several milestones, including winning our first major national tournament (Greenhill), our first round-robin (Pinecrest), our first IHSA State Championship, our first time qualifying two teams to NSDA Nationals, and now, our first finals appearance at NSDA Nationals. Congratulations to all of our debaters, who have worked so hard over the years.”