(SPOKANE, Wash.) — The Gonzaga University debate team has been busy pulling double duty of late, preparing for final semester exams while competing intensely in national tournaments that have lifted the Bulldogs to a No. 8 ranking in the nation.
Gonzaga debate Coach Glen Frappier said the debaters — who moved up from their No. 9 National Debate Tournament ranking on Oct. 31 — have finished their fall season in fast company.
“We had a couple of very good tournaments at the end of the semester, which helped our final ranking,” Frappier said, adding the Bulldogs competed at Wake Forest University Nov. 9-11 in what has become the largest and one of the most competitive tournaments. The top two teams from 70 universities competed at Wake Forest, including Gonzaga’s top team of seniors Grace Saez, of Las Vegas, and Nick Bormann, Spokane, who advanced to the field of 32 where they defeated Emory University (3-0), beat the No. 2 seeded team from University of Michigan, and lost to Harvard University in the quarterfinals in a close 2-1 decision.
“A final 8 appearance at this tournament solidified their status as one of the top teams in the country this year,” Frappier said of Saez and Bormann. Also representing Gonzaga was the team of sophomores Abe Corrigan and James Joseph who posted a 5-3 record but failed to advance to the field of 32 (they were the 33rd seed after the preliminary rounds).
“Finishing with a winning record, and just barely missing a chance to debate in elimination rounds, out of a pool of 140 teams is quite impressive and provided some valuable boost to our ranking,” Frappier said.
The following weekend, Gonzaga’s younger debaters represented the team regionally at the Whitman College tournament (Nov. 18-20) in Walla Walla. The team of freshmen Leah Moczulski and Karina Momary posted a 6-0 record in the preliminaries to advance as the top seed to the elimination rounds. Joining them in the elimination debates was the GU team of freshman Garry Padrta and junior Melissa Hanna, which also posted a 6-0 record and advanced as the second seed. Both teams were defeated in the semifinals on split decisions by Whitman College teams. All four debaters were recognized among the top eight speakers at the tournament as Hanna was named the No. 2-ranked speaker overall.
“This was a great showing for our up-and-coming debaters,” Frappier said.
The topic being debated this season is the United States’ foreign policy in the Middle East.
“The topic is huge and requires a sustained, massive research effort,” Frappier said. “These students showed a lot of determination and effort over the last month and proved they can compete with the best programs in the nation. Unfortunately, this comes with a price, and most of the teams won't be able to enjoy much of a Christmas break."
The Bulldogs’ next tournament is Dec. 28-31 at the University of Southern in Los Angeles. Then, the team will host the Conway Classic, a Gonzaga invitational tournament for high schools nationwide. Immediately after the Conway, the debaters will depart for the University of California-Berkeley, followed by competitions at Weber State University and the University of Texas as they prepare for the stretch run toward the National Debate Tournament in spring 2008.
National Debate Tournament Rankings TOP 25
1. Emory University
2. University of Kansas
3. Dartmouth College
4. University of California, Berkeley
5. Missouri State University
6. University of Texas
7. Binghamton University
8. Gonzaga University
9. Harvard University
10. Northwestern University
11. University of Southern California
12. Idaho State University
13. Wayne State University
14. Wichita State University
15. Wake Forest University
16. Michigan State University
17. University of Richmond
18. University of Wyoming
19. Kansas State University
20. Whitman College
21. California State University-Fullerton
22. Baylor University
23. University of Texas, Dallas
24. University of Georgia
25. Mary Washington University