Christy Webster and John Vermitsky won the Junior Varsity National Championship to cap off an excellent weekend for the entire team.

The highly-seeded Debate Union traveled to Towson University in Maryland this weekend to participate in the Novice and Junior Varsity National Championships.

UR accounted for 8 of the top 32 novice pairs nationally and 9 of the 20 top individual speakers.

“We competed against schools from all over the country and had an amazing tournament,” senior and Debate Union President Amy Novak said.

UR’s freshmen Nafees Nuruddin, Steve D’Amico, and Karim Oussayef took first, third, and fourth for top novice speakers in the country.

“They were calling the names of the debaters and as I didn’t hear my name called I got more and more anxious,” Nuruddin said. “Finally, the tournament director said that the second place speaker from Vanderbuilt had stopped Rochester from closing out the top four. That is when I knew I had the number one spot.”

Webster, in addition to winning the championship with Vermitsky, took second among JV individual speakers. “The whole weekend was quite overwhelming,” she said.

“We were really excited to be able to debate well and to have everything end on such a high note,” he said.

Webster and Vermitsky will debate next at the CEDA Varsity National Championships in California. “We really hope to be able to carry the momentum from winning JV Nationals and translate it into success at this upcoming tournament,” Webster said.

The weekend’s victories boosted Rochester to the top of the National Debate Tournament rankings.

However, Northwestern University, Emory and Michigan are also competing for first place.

As their budget could not anticipate the excellent performances and subsequent tournament invitations that have characterized this season, debaters have been absorbing many costs out of pocket. Following a supplemental from SAAC, debaters have paid $50 to participate in the past two tournaments.

Novak and senior Camber Warren, received a bid to the National Debate Tournament, an elite tournament at Southwest Missouri State University to which only the 64 best varsity partnerships in the country receive invitations. “We are be thrilled to be going to the tournament,” Novak said. “The competition is the most intense in the country and we are honored to be representing the university there.”

Brach can be reached at

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