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Senior, coach both receive debate honors

 University High School senior Ansh Sehgal and adviser Dave Smith have each received prestigious awards.

  • During the Washington State Debate Tournament in Tacoma last month, Sehgal won the Eric Helppie Award. The award was presented to him based on his four years of speech and debate, grades, AP courses, scholastic testing since middle school, community service, and recommendation letters and interviews. It has only been presented to Spokane-area students seven times since 1972. Of those, a U-Hi student received it in 2007 and a Central Valley student last earned the honor in 1974.

 “It was pretty shocking, really,” Sehgal said. Along with a giant trophy, he also received a $300 scholarship.

 “Ansh is an amazing student,” Smith said. He said he’s been on the committee that selects the award winner in the past and knows choosing the most deserving student is like choosing from “shades of perfection.”

 “He can win debates without irritating his opponents,” Smith said. Often, the opponents beaten by him still like him.

 “He’s just the real thing,” Smith said.

Ansh also excels in science, math and English. Smith said Sehgal works with Whitworth University to help design electrical propulsion for NASA aircraft.

  • Smith also has his own accolades as a debate coach. He was honored recently by the National Speech & Debate Association with a third Diamond Award, which recognizes a career that is both long and successful. During tournaments, the association awards points to the coach and 6,000 are needed for the award. Smith received 7,116 points.

 “It all looks easy when you’re dealing with incredible talent,” Smith said.

 He will receive it during the National Speech & Debate Tournament in June, which will be in Overland Park, Kan.

 Sehgal will compete, as well as Jeremie Pope, a junior, Payton Ugolini, a sophomore, and Nate Rough, a senior.