February 17, 2010

SIUC debaters post impressive showings

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team is continuing its winning ways, with finishes in the top five over several recent tournaments.

Most recently, at two of the most prestigious tournaments of the semester, hosted by Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, the team grabbed second, third and fifth.

The team of Kevin Calderwood, a senior from Chesterfield, Mo., and Brandon Merrell, a junior from Snohomish, Wash., participated in the invitational tournament with the top 20 ranked teams in the nation, and finished third.

The next day’s tournament was Point Loma’s annual Sunset Cliffs Classic Open Tournament, traditionally one of the best-attended tournaments of the late season. SIUC debaters competed against more than 100 teams nationwide in this tournament.

Calderwood and Merrell finished second in this tournament. Michael Selck, a freshman from Blue Springs, Mo., and Richard Flores, a freshman currently of Carbondale, placed fifth.

“It was a great week for SIUC,” Todd Graham, director of debate at SIUC, said. “We had two teams in the top five, with more than 100 teams competing. Not only that, but both our teams were undefeated in the preliminary rounds of debates. We were on quite a roll.”

Earlier this semester, the teams faced a rigorous two-week schedule that took them to California and Texas, nabbing a win and a second in those tournaments.

Calderwood and Merrell won at the debate tournament hosted by California State University at Long Beach. Among their opponents were last year’s champions -- the only team to finish the year ahead of SIUC, which placed second nationwide last year, and held the national championship the previous year.

Merrell and Calderwood took second at Texas Tech University, and clinched the top ranking as issued by the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence.

“In fact, with the season they have had so far, Brandon and Kevin are the highest-ranked team ever,” Graham said. “They have more points now than any team has ever had.”

Graham explained that a team’s top five tournaments of the year determine points and ranking.

Flores and Selck tied for ninth in the tournament, and Selck finished as fifth best overall debater.