Zach Schneider and Josh Rivera

Successful debate weekend -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate team of Zach Schneider, left, and Josh Rivera earned a pair of tournament wins this past weekend at the University of Pacific. (Photo by Russell Bailey)

November 05, 2014

Debate team keeps rolling with tournament wins

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Whether the competition is the select few or the mighty in numbers, the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team comes out on top. 

The most recent proof of this came over Halloween weekend when SIU debaters won back-to-back tournaments – again. This time it was the Pat Kennedy Round Robin tournament and the Paul Winters Invitational, both at the University of the Pacific. 

Only the top 10 debate programs in the country received invitations to enter a debate duo for the Pat Kennedy Round Robin tournament. SIU sent the tournament-winning team of Josh Rivera, a senior from Chicago majoring in political science and a two-time national champion, with partner Zach Schneider, a senior from Great Mills, Md., majoring in computer science. The duo performed well throughout the debate and into the final round against a team from the University of California, Berkeley. Todd Graham, director of the debate program at SIU, noted that the final round is scored differently than most debates. In this case, all guests of the events, including previous students and debaters from the host university, judge the final round. SIU won by a wide margin in taking the championship. 

The open invitation Paul Winters Tournament featured more than 100 teams and SIU’s Rivera and Schneider beat them all. A particularly satisfying victory came in the semi-finals against a team from Washburn University that beat Rivera and Schneider earlier this season. 

“Winning both tournaments is incredibly difficult, getting through a huge field of the best teams in the country,” Graham said. “It takes a full team effort, from myself, to the graduate assistant coaches, and the debaters. We’ve all got to be on the same page, and firing on all cylinders.”