Edina High School senior Arvind Veluvali has his eye on a repeat of last year’s first-place victory as the only returning champion to the State Debate Tournament this weekend at the University of Minnesota campus.

The tournament is marking its 115th anniversary and is the Minnesota State High School League’s longest-running event. Competition rounds started Friday and will continue Saturday.

Veluvali took home first place at the state tournament in the Lincoln-Douglas debate in 2015. The Lincoln-Douglas debate pits individuals head-to-head around philosophies and values of an issue. This year’s topic revolves around whether or not private gun ownership should be banned.

The format pushes students to delve into morals, mirroring Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas’ 1858 debate on the morals of slavery. 

“You have to become acquainted with various philosophical positions as well as issues in the real world, such as anything from a jury nullification to Internet surveillance to more philosophical issues,” Veluvali said.

The tournament also includes policy and public forum debates. The policy debate this year is centered on whether the federal government should scale back its domestic surveillance. In the public forum debate, students will hash out whether economic sanctions are diminishing Russia’s threat to Western interests.

This is Veluvali's final time heading to the state tournament.

"What I'll miss most is probably the competitive aspect of it," he said, adding that he's learned skills through debate to take him forward.