Georgetown’s most recent pair of national champions stepped into the ring last week, armed with words and hours of research, to claim victory in this year’s National Debate Tournament championship.

Andrew Arsht (COL ’14) and Andrew Markoff (SFS ’14), became the second sophomore team to win the tournament since its founding in 1947 when they defeated a team from Northwestern University.

The championship in Atlanta marked the conclusion of a year’s worth of preparation for the two victors, as well as the entire team and its coaching staff.

“Each tournament is a stepping stone leading up to nationals. In many ways, our preparation was a year-long process culminating in a few crucial debates,” Arsht said.

Throughout the year, team members spend dozens of hours each week researching the given topic, practicing speeches and evaluating prospective competitors. This year’s debate topic focused on U.S. involvement in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

“When we are not travelling or on break from school, we each do approximately 40 hours of research per week in addition to schoolwork,” Arsht said.

Every member of the team stayed on campus over spring break, spending 12 to 14 hours each day preparing for the national tournament.

“I think a good analogy is that it’s like going to two schools. Georgetown and debate probably have about equal work loads,” Markoff said.

According to Markoff, nerves and stress run high at the National Debate Tournament because every team who qualifies is talented and well prepared.

“We entered each debate knowing that it could be the last debate of the season,” he said. “That made us try that much harder, but no debate could have been considered easy.”

Arsht and Markoff emphasized the importance of their teammates in their victory.

“I would argue that the team is everything. Without our highly dedicated coaches and teammates, we would have no shot at winning a single debate, much less a tournament,” Markoff said.

Debate Coach Jonathan Paul recognized the importance of the entire team effort as well, crediting members who didn’t compete as integral to Arsht and Markoff’s win.

The pair said they believe that Georgetown’s debate program will only grow after the victory.

“I think that this win shows that they have brought the program back to its competitive heyday. Even if we didn’t have this victory, I still do think the team is strong and has a really bright future ahead of it,”Markoff said.

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