March 19, 2015

Debate team places second in NPDA tournament

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team finished second in the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) championships, edged out in a narrow defeat that Todd Graham, debate program director, described as “heartbreaking.” 

The tournament, March 14-17 at Kansas City Kansas Community College, is the first of two national collegiate debate events taking place this week. 

Two-time national champion Josh Rivera, a senior from Chicago, and partner Zach Schneider, a senior from Great Mills, Md., lost in a final round 5-4 vote to a team from the host college. SIU’s appearance in the final debate round extends its streak of placing a team in the “Final Four” of a national debate championship to eight straight years. SIU was the event’s two-time defending champions. 

Gina Lane, a NPDA tournament coordinator director of debate at William Jewell College, said the tournament was a “Cinderella story” for the winning team and an excellent round of debate. 

“SIU had a lot to be proud of,” she said. “SIU is always a perennial favorite at these tournaments, and Graham is an excellent debate coach.” 

Graham received the Quintilian Award from Point Loma Nazarene College last month. The award is presented to an individual with a long-standing devotion to collegiate debate who demonstrates a leadership role in debate and a commitment to education. 

The team is preparing for the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence championship. The tournament begins Friday, March 20, at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo.