January 21, 2015

Debate teams begins new year on strong note

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team brought home tournament championship trophies as its first act of the new year. With this latest victory, the team is poised to make a run at another national championship. 

The duo of Josh Rivera, a senior from Chicago majoring in political science and a two-time SIU champion, with partner Zach Schneider, a senior from Great Mills, Md., majoring in computer science, won one and took second in the other of the two debate tournaments known collectively as the Mile High Swing at the University of Utah. The debates took place Jan. 9-11. 

Rivera and Schneider held a 20-2 win-loss after three days of competition. The defeats came in the first tournament, during which they placed second overall.  They went undefeated through the second tournament. 

“It’s the largest tournament of the year so far,” Todd Graham, director of the debate program at SIU, said. “Most of the teams we expect to compete for the national championship were there, so it was a good litmus test. I know Zach and Josh are very excited to win this tournament, and competitively, it was a great start for the second semester.” 

Graham noted that SIU defeated teams from much larger universities, including the University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Berkeley; Rice University; the University of Oregon; and the University of Colorado. More than 30 universities participated in the debate tournament.