November 19, 2008

Debate duo opens season with a victory

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A new duo on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team took its first step toward filling the big shoes left by last year’s national champion duo of Kevin Calderwood and Kyle Dennis.

Dennis graduated, but Calderwood, a junior in political science from Chesterfield, Mo., now teamed with Adam Testerman, a sophomore in cinema and photography from Springfield, Mo., won their first tournament at the University of the Pacific in northern California in early November. The tournament at University of the Pacific was the largest scheduled for this academic year’s debate season, debate Director Todd Graham said. More than 100 debate teams participated, including University of California-Berkeley, Rice, University of Colorado, Texas Tech University, University of Oregon and more.

The SIUC duo of Christopher Neill, a sophomore in political science from Petoskey, Mich., and Katie Thomas, a junior in political science from Fort Collins, Colo., placed ninth at the Pacific tournament, falling to a team from the United States Air Force Academy.

That tournament was part of the season-opening trip for the Saluki Debaters. The trip began with a tournament at University of California-Berkeley. At Berkeley, Calderwood and Dennis went undefeated in the preliminary debates, Graham said. They finished third out of a field of more than 50 teams.

“This is where the National Parliamentary Debate Association National Championship Tournament will be held in the spring,” Graham said. “We wanted to see the judges, get used to the environment, and let the (other teams) know that, even though Kyle graduated, we are still a strong team.”

Graham expressed optimism about this season following the success of the previous season, but there is a downside. “I couldn’t be happier about our showing. We have set ourselves up as one of the top programs again this year,” he said. “Now comes the tough part -- everyone will be gunning for us.”