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2016 Montgomery Bell Academy Extemp Round Robin: Balaji Overcomes Graham and Sloane in the Final Round to Win the First Major Championship of 2016

mba2010After two days of close and fierce competition in Nashville, Vaikunth Balaji of Ridge High School (NJ) emerged as the winner of the 2016 Montgomery Bell Extemp Round Robin. Balaji survived ten grueling rounds of competition against some of the best extempers in the nation, edging National Points Race leader Justin Graham of Trinity Preparatory School (FL) by one rank. His win marks the first time that a Ridge extemper placed in the top six of the Round Robin and he is the first New Jersey extemper to win the tournament since 2009, when Matt Arons of Millburn High School took home the title.

This year’s Round Robin was the closest in two years, with Balaji, Graham, and third place finisher Marshall Sloane of Milton Academy (MA) all entering the ninth round of the tournament tied for the lead. In the tenth round, Balaji’s picket fencing of his round was better than Graham’s 1-1-2 performance in another section. Sloane was matched up with Balaji and went straight two’s, leaving him three ranks behind Balaji when the tournament concluded.

In many ways, Balaji’s win was a come-from-behind effort as he began the tournament in fifth place after the first round. He maneuvered his way into the top three after round three, while Graham took the lead in the tournament after round five. Graham would hold that position going into the very last round. In fact, Balaji went from third to first after the tenth round and he never led the tournament until the very end.

Sloane was the only non-senior to finish in the top six. The top six also included Saint Mark’s International Extemp winner Micah Cash of Booker T. Washington High School (OK), Glenbrooks winner Marshall Webb of Saint Mary’s Hall (TX), and Daniel Drane of Des Moines Roosevelt High School (IA).

Balaji will receive 150 National Points Race points for his victory since MBA is a second tier tournament. The win is his first major championship and second victory at a Nationals Points Race tournament this season.

Here are the results of the 2016 Montgomery Bell Academy Extemp Round Robin:
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2016 Montgomery Bell Academy Extemp Round Robin: Sweet Sixteen Preview Part II

mba2010Here is the second part of our participant capsules for this year’s Montgomery Bell Extemp Round Robin in Nashville, Tennessee.  Check back tomorrow for a poll, where you can cast your vote for who you think will win this year’s tournament!  If you missed part I of this preview, you can read it here.

KEY:  DNA = Did Not Attend; DNC = Did Not Clear (Break); NR = Not Ranked
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2016 Montgomery Bell Academy Extemp Round Robin: Sweet Sixteen Preview Part I

mba2010This Saturday and Sunday, sixteen of the nation’s best extemporaneous speakers will compete in Nashville, Tennessee at the eighteenth edition of the Montgomery Bell Academy (MBA) Extemp Round Robin.  This year’s event is different from previous years in that the tournament will take place over two days instead of three and there will be no Exhibition Round this year due to time constraints.  Still, the tournament will feature ten rounds, with each competitor hitting every other competitor twice, and the winner of the tournament will receive 150 points in the National Points Race.

Last season, Josh Wartel of Lake Braddock Secondary School (VA) won by a comfortable margin, becoming the first Virginia extemper to do so, while Phoebe Lin of Plano West Senior High School (TX) captured the Exhibition Round title.  Wartel later went on to win the final round of the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA)’s National Tournament in Dallas, Texas and the competitor that finished second – Brian Anderson of LaRue County High School (KY) – won the International Extemp national championship at that same event.  None of last year’s Exhibition Round participants are returning for this year’s competition, an unusual event for a tournament where an underclassmen typically places in the top five.

This year’s tournament field features the winners of ten 2015-2016 Extemporaneous Speaking Tournament of Champions (TOC) qualifying tournaments, six 2015 state champions, and nine of the top ten competitors in the National Points Race.  In fact, the winners of all of the 2015-2016 National Points Race tournaments are represented.  And six competitors are veterans of the tournament with one of them (Vaikunth Balaji) returning for the third time.

It would be apt to call this year’s competition a “team tournament within a tournament” as three schools – Des Moines Roosevelt High School (IA), Ridge High School (NJ), and Trinity Preparatory School (FL) – each have two extempers in the field.

Today and tomorrow, Extemp Central will provide brief capsules for each of the sixteen extempers invited to participate in this year’s MBA Round Robin.  The capsules have been arranged in alphabetical order.
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2016 Montgomery Bell Extemp Round Robin: This Year’s Field

mba2010Montgomery Bell Academy (MBA) Extemp Round Robin director Adam Johnson has released the names of the sixteen competitors that have been selected to compete at this year’s tournament.  These extempers will compete in Nashville, Tennessee on January 2-3.  Congratulations to all of the invitees.

*Vaikunth Balaji (Ridge High School, New Jersey)
*Micah Cash (Booker T. Washington High School, Oklahoma)
*Justin Cooper (Scarsdale High School, New York)
*Daniel Drane (Des Moines Roosevelt High School, Iowa)
*Justin Graham (Trinity Preparatory School, Florida)
*Katherine Hu (Plano Senior High School, Texas)
*Shawn Kant (Ridge High School, New Jersey)
*Andrew Langford (Lake Highland Preparatory, Florida)
*Christopher Mayer (Montville Township High School, New Jersey)
*Neil Patel (Plano West Senior High School, Texas)
*Nathaniel Saffran (Trinity Preparatory School, Florida)
*Shreetika Singh (Seven Lakes High School, Texas)
*Marshall Sloane (Milton Academy, Massachusetts)
*Jacob Thompson (Des Moines Roosevelt High School, Iowa)
*Marshall Webb (Saint Mary’s Hall, Texas)
*Brian Xu (San Marino High School, California)

2015 Montgomery Bell Academy Extemp Round Robin: Wartel Redeems Last Year’s Loss, Wins Third Consecutive National Circuit Event; Lin Takes Exhibition Round

mba2010Having lost the closest Montgomery Bell Academy Extemp Round Robin in history last year, Josh Wartel of Lake Braddock Secondary School (VA) left nothing to chance at this year’s event, achieving a seven rank triumph over Brian Anderson of LaRue County High School (KY) in this year’s tournament. Having led all ten rounds of last year’s competition before succombing in an Exhibition Round tiebreaker to three-time champion Lily Nellans, Wartel led nine of the ten rounds of this year’s competition, taking control of the tournament in the second round and never looking back. The title is Wartel’s first major championship and is his third consecutive victory at a prominent national circuit tournament. Wartel won Villiger for the second time in November and won both extemp competitions at George Mason last month. He will receive 150 National Points Race points for his win.

Anderson’s runner-up finish was the best performance by a Kentucky extemper at the Round Robin. His top five placing was also the first time that a Kentucky extemper had reached the Exhibition Round since 2008.

The top five competitors of the tournament were all from Southern states, creating the first all-Southern Exhibition Round in Round Robin history. In the Exhibition Round, adjudicated by the eleven competitors that did not place in the top five, Phoebe Lin of Plano West Senior High School (TX) took the title, becoming the first Texas extemper to do so since 2009. Lin took third in the general tournament, placing a mere one rank behind Anderson.

Overall, the tournament was very close with the second and fifth-highest placing extempers separated by only eight ranks. Noah Wexler of Nova Senior High School (FL) finished fourth, only two ranks behind Lin and a mere three ranks behind Anderson. Eitan Sapiro-Gheiler from Durham Academy (NC) took fifth, with five ranks separating him from Wexler.

National Points Race leader Justin Graham of Trinity Preparatory School (FL) took next out honors and will receive National Points Race points for his sixth place finish. Graham missed the Exhibition Round by seven ranks.

Here are the results of the 2015 Montgomery Bell Academy Extemp Round Robin:
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2015 MBA Extemp Round Robin Live Coverage: Round 7 Pairings

Tournament director Adam Johnson has posted his “wacky graph” of this year’s Round Robin.  Each competitor is a line and the placings of all sixteen are shown through the rounds of the competition thus far.  Competitors do not know what line they are, though, which leads to lots of interesting (and often incorrect) guessing.  Here is the current “wacky graph”:

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As you can see, the competitor currently leading the field has done so since round two.  The middle is currently a big jumble of lines, showing lots of volatility.

The pairings for round seven of the Round Robin are included below.  The topic area for this round is international economics.
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2015 MBA Extemp Round Robin Live Coverage: Round 6 Pairings

mba2010We are halfway through this year’s Round Robin.  The last round was experimental and questions were over very obscure subject matters such as the American trucking industry, upcoming elections in Lesotho, the closing of Vermont’s Yankee Nuclear power plant, and tax reform in the Seychelles.

The topic area for this upcoming round is the Obama administration.
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