Elk Lake debater claims national title
BY PAT FARNELLI
Elk Lake senior Austin Cohen was hopeful of doing something he had not been able to do in his three previous years of competing in the Catholic Forensics League’s Grand National Tournament.
He simply wanted to advance beyond the elimination rounds.
Over Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia, Cohen advanced through all the elimination rounds and claimed the NCFL National Championship in Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
Reached Sunday night, Cohen said, “It’s a little surreal, hard to believe, really satisfying victory. It was great being surrounded by my coaches and teammates.”‘
On Saturday, Cohen, son of Corey Cohen and Phyllis Cohen in Dimock was among 215 of the top debaters in the country at a grueling five round tournament. At the end of the day, he had compiled a four win and one loss record.
As a result of his record, he was seeded 20th in the Double-Octo Final Round Bracket, which seeded the top 32 debaters in the field.
In his Doubl-Octo round, Cohen dominated thirteenth-seeded John McKay from Chaminade High School in New York with a 3-0 decision.
Cohen faced stiffer completion in Octo Finals from Brian Shouse from Reservoir High School of Baltimore, Md., and scratched out a 2-1 decision.
The Quarter-Final round was a cross-state rivalry debate against Zane Stiles from Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School. Once again, Cohen won a 2-1 decision and advanced to Semi Finals.
In the Semi Final round, Cohen soundly defeated Christopher Zhang, from Westford Academy in Boston, on a 4-1 decision.
That would set up a Final between Cohen and Sophia Caldera from Walt Whitman High School of Washington D.C. in front of a crowd of several hundred judges and debaters.
In a close debate, Cohen won a 3-2 victory and the National Championship in LD Debate.
“I don’t think that this has sunk in. I simply don’t have words to express how ecstatic I am at this moment,” explained an overjoyed Keith Brosious, Elk Lake Forensics Director.
“Austin is an incredibly committed and dedicated debater. He has put more hours into preparing and practicing for debate over the past six years than any other debater,” commented Brosious.
For the season, Cohen’s record is 87-4. He has won every tournament that he has competed in all season.
Cohen admitted, “This is the first year I’ve placed at the national tournament. It is pretty cut and dry, whoever wins the final round is the overall champion.”
He will finish out his competitive debate career at the National Forensics League’s National Championship in Birmingham, AL on June 16-22.