January 29, 2009

Debate team continues to gain momentum

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale debate team is off to a running start in its quest to follow up last year’s national championship season with a pattern of success.

This weekend sees the debaters close to home at Webster University in St. Louis, but the following weekend (Feb. 6-8) they are off to San Diego, Calif., for a tournament hosted by Point Loma Nazarene University.

The most recent competitions were the mid-January back-to-back tournaments in Denver, Colo., hosted by Regis University and the University of Denver. Director of Debate Todd Graham noted that the tournaments each included more than 80 competing teams. SIUC’s debate duos captured second, fifth and ninth places during the tournament weekend.

The team of Kevin Calderwood (Chesterfield, Mo.) and Adam Testerman (Springfield, Mo.) went undefeated through the preliminary rounds during the Regis University debate, and into the single elimination rounds. They defeated teams from University of California at Berkeley, Texas Tech University, the University of Oregon and the University of Colorado. In the final round, Calderwood and Testerman fell to a team from Western Washington University on a close 2-1 decision, Graham said. Calderwood is one half of last year’s national champion debate duo. His partner from last year, Kyle Dennis, graduated last May.

Calderwood and Testerman were tied for fifth in the University of Denver debate, Graham said. Once again, they were undefeated in the preliminary rounds, but this time they fell to a team from Berkeley in the quarterfinals.

The new team of Christopher Neill (Petoskey, Mich.) and Katie Thomas (Fort Collins, Colo.) finished the preliminary rounds with a 4-1 record. They won the first of their elimination rounds, but fell to a team from Western Kentucky University in the next round.

“We were a little rusty, having not debated much first semester,” Graham said. “But I think we shook it off pretty well. Plus, we just came back from the World Debating Championships in Ireland, where we were forced to adapt to an entirely different style of debating. It was a bit tricky to fall back into place here in the States.”

Graham noted the upcoming tournament at Point Loma Nazarene University is one of the most prestigious of the year prior to nationals. The team’s showing in Colorado has him optimistic about the upcoming debate weekends.

“Any time you can get to a final round at a tournament this large, you are debating very well,” he said. “I think this sets us up nicely for the rest of the semester… I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”