January 24, 2012

Debaters start 2012 with impressive showings

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team started off 2012 with four tournaments and impressive finishes: one first-place win, three thirds, one fifth and two ninths. 

At the University of Utah, with more than 70 debate teams, Ben Campbell (Springfield, Mo.), and Mike Selck (Blue Springs, Mo.), went undefeated.  The duo worked its way through the single-elimination debate, went toe-to-toe with the current top-rankers, a team from the University of Texas at Tyler, and came out on top. 

The duo of Sid Rehg (Swansea) and Josh Rivera (Chicago) took third place in that same tournament.

“Ben and Mike had a terrific tournament, their third tournament win of the year, and against strong competition.” Todd Graham, debate director, said.  “To have two teams in the top three at a tournament that large is phenomenal.”

The second University of Utah tournament saw Campbell and Selck in fifth and Regh and Rivera in ninth -- both still in the top 10.

The next pair of tournaments was at Western Washington University, the site for both national championship tournaments this year (the National Parliamentary Debate Association and the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence).  More than 90 teams attended these two tournaments, including traditional debate powerhouses, of which SIU Carbondale is one.

This time, Campbell and Selck grabbed third twice, while Rehg and Rivera took a fifth and a ninth. 

“These two tournaments are the largest of the year so far, and certainly the most competitive,” Graham said.  “Neither of the SIU Carbondale teams finished out of the top 10 at either tournament.  Most schools would consider themselves fortunate to have a single top 10 finish, but SIU Carbondale did it four times out of four -- actually eight times out of eight if you count both debate teams.”

The coaching team includes graduate assistants Kevin Calderwood (who was part of the SIU Carbondale national championship team in 2008), Kyle Cheesewright and Steve Farias.