October 31, 2006

SIUC debaters finish fifth in Colorado

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A team of Southern Illinois University Carbondale students finished fifth at the James "Al" Johnson Forensic Invitational, hosted Oct. 27-29 by Colorado College.

The annual tournament drew 80 debate teams from 35 American colleges and universities, including the AirForce Academy, University of California Berkeley, University of Oregon, and Temple University, to name a few.

The team of Justin J. Hingtgen, a senior majoring in business management from West Des Moines, Iowa (5223 Pommel Place) and Kyle B. Dennis, a junior majoring in economics from Blue Springs, Mo. (2238 S.W. Wall St.), finished fifth overall.

The team of Kathryn R. Thomas, a sophomore majoring in political science from Fort Collins, Colo. and Ariell J. Rogers, a sophomore pre-medicine major from Chicago (12237 S. Harvard St.), placed ninth in the tournament.

"I'm very proud of the students. Considering the stiff competition that we had, it was a very impressive showing," said Todd Graham, director of SIUC's debate program, which is part of the speech communication department in the College of Liberal Arts.

Speech communication graduate students Brian N. Norcross of Vista, Calif. (1259 Sugarbush Drive) and Matthew T. Plush of York, Pa. (912 S. Albemarle St.) assisted in coaching the debaters.

The first two days of the tournament featured three preliminary debate rounds, with teams matched according to their performance in past rounds and speaker ratings. On the third day, the top 32 teams with the best records advanced to a single-elimination playoff to determine the tournament's champion.

SIUC's team also consisted of Nick Deml, a junior majoring in political science and English from La Crosse, Wis. (1808 East Ave.) and Sidney L Rehg, a sophomore majoring in music education from Swansea (181 Pineywoods Drive).

The squad will compete next in December at the World Universities Debating Championships in Vancouver, Canada. The University of British Columbia will host the intense, seven-day debate competition.

"The learning experience will be amazing," said Graham. "It will be our first time competing with teams from across the globe and we're very excited about the opportunity."

The SIUC debate team is a member of the National Parliamentary Debate Association and the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence.

Achieving excellence in undergraduate and graduate education is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.