October 27, 2011

Debate Team has two of nation’s top three duos

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team cleaned up at Berkeley.

SIU Carbondale sent two duos to the University of California at Berkeley, a major tournament that immediately precedes the announcement of season standings for debate teams in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence.  The rankings place one SIU Carbondale duo second in the nation, and the other duo at third.

“SIU Carbondale has two of the top three teams in the current rankings,” debate director Todd Graham said.  “While I know these will change and the season is long, it is good to know that we are starting off well.”

At the tournament, the duo of Josh Rivera (Chicago), a freshman political science major, and Sid Rehg (Swansea), a sophomore business major -- both new to the SIU Carbondale debate program -- went undefeated in the preliminary rounds, and mowed down the competition on the way to the final round.  Ultimately they defeated a team from Washburn University to take the top spot in the invitational tournament.

The duo of Ben Campbell (Springfield, Mo.), a junior political science major, and Mike Selck (Blue Springs, Mo.), a sophomore speech communication major, winners of the major William Jewell tournament earlier this season, put in a good showing, but did not make it to the final rounds.  However, Selck won an individual award as the top debater of the tournament.

“This is obviously a major accomplishment for SIU Carbondale,” Graham said.  “Berkeley is the one tournament we focus on the most during the first semester of the season.  Because of the history and prestige of the institution, this is the debate tournament we build everything around for the first semester.  To win it two of our last three years is outstanding.”

Graham added that it was icing on the cake to win the tournament with a new duo.

The team also includes Andrew Thomas (Stockton, Calif.), and graduate assistants Kyle Cheesewright, Steve Farias and former Saluki Debate champ, Kevin Calderwood.