October 12, 2012

Debate team grabs big tournament win

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team came home from the University of California, Berkeley, site of the second debate of the season, with its second win of the season last weekend.

The SIU Carbondale duo of Mike Selck, a senior from Blue Springs, Mo., majoring in speech communication, and Josh Rivera, a sophomore from Chicago majoring in political science, won the Berkeley tournament by a unanimous decision.

This is the second year in a row for an SIU Carbondale team to win the tournament. It's the second tournament title for Rivera, who was part of the winning duo last year.

This tournament is one where Todd Graham, SIU Carbondale's director of debate, and speech communication faculty member, said he learns what his team is made of, and the potential for the season. Last year's tournament win was a surprise, but Graham said this year's victory was more like confirmation.

"Mike and Josh were favorites (to win the debate) and they debated like it, making their way through a tough field to bring home the championship," he said.

All told so far this year, counting all the individual debates that make up a debate tournament, Selck and Rivera have a 29-1 record.

In addition to the team win, the individual debaters also left an imprint on the tournament. The top three individual awards all went to SIU Carbondale debaters, with Selck first, Rivera second, and Ben Campbell, a senior from Springfield, Mo., majoring in political science, third. Sid Rehg, a junior from Swansea majoring in speech communication, finished seventh overall.

"I couldn't be happier that SIU continues to lead the way in the practice of argumentation and debate, especially at locations as time-honored as Berkeley," Graham said.

SIU Carbondale has finished in the top four at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence -- the debate equivalent of the national championships -- four times in the past five years. Because of Selck and Rivera's strong showing at the first debate of the season several weeks ago, the duo is already qualified to compete in the year-end, invitation-only tournament. The duo of Campbell and Rehg also qualified for the nationals as well.