UTK Debate Team Wins National Championship… Again.

By Nathaniel Hooper; edited by Mickayla Stogsdill

The Tennessee Speech and Debate Society won a National Championship in IPDA style debate… Again.

The Tennessee Speech and Debate Society winning a Southeast Regional Championship earlier in February

After winning national titles for the past three years, the University of Tennessee’s Debate Team took out to compete in the 2017 IPDA National Championship Tournament and Conference with clear eyes and full hearts to try and defend their top spot. This year’s Nationals were held at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas on March 23rd through the 26th of 2017. Once they arrived in Russellville, the team had the time for a good night’s rest before it was go-time: this was the last tournament of the year and the debaters were committed to finishing strong.

The team awoke at roughly 9am on March 24th, ready for a surprisingly relaxing day of debating with only 4 preliminary rounds instead of the typical 6–8 daily preliminary rounds to which the team has become accustomed throughout the season. After Friday’s debates, four preliminary rounds remained for Saturday. After the 8th preliminary round concluded on Saturday, partial out rounds began in all divisions. As usual, the University of Tennessee’s Debate Team was well-represented in out rounds:

In the Novice division, we brought a total of 5 debaters, and 2 debaters, Symantha Gregorash and Michael Chambliss, broke into a partial triple octa-finals round! Michael won first out-round and ultimately finished as a double octa-finalist. Symantha had a bye in her partial octa-final round and also finished as a double octa-finalist. This season’s Novice National Championship tournament’s total breaking seeds contained the top 44 seeds in the tournament through prelims, requiring a 5–3 record to make out rounds. All of our Novice debaters finished in the top 60 of 108 total debaters at this tournament!

Here’s just a couple of trophies the team earned from its impressive 2016–2017 season!

In the Junior Varsity division, we brought 3 debaters, and 2 of which, Mickayla Stogsdill and Randi Thompson, broke into out-rounds with 6–2 records. Both Mickayla and Randi earned a bye in the partial double octa-final round and moved directly into octa-finals. Both Mickayla and Randi won their octa-final rounds, and were scheduled to compete against each other in quarterfinals. In the case that two debaters on the same team are scheduled to debate the other, it’s common practice to take the highest seeded member and make a “coach’s decision” for them to move on to the next round. Therefore, Randi Thompson finished as a quarterfinalist (Top 8!) in the National Championship Tournament and Mickayla went onto finish as a semifinalist (Top 4!)!

Finally, in the Varsity division we brought 2 debaters and both made out- rounds! Denizhan Pak, in his season’s best performance, earned a 7–1 preliminary round record, entered out rounds as the third seed, and finished as a double octa-finalist. After a 6–2 finish in prelims, Stephen Boyette finished as a semifinalist (Top 4)!

After final rounds, the University of Tennessee’s Debate Team made its way to Tucker Coliseum, the home of Arkansas Tech University’s basketball teams, for the awards banquet. At the awards banquet, our debaters were recognized for both their season long championships and National Tournament accomplishments!

2017 IPDA National Tournament- Tennessee Speech and Debate Society brings homes its fourth consecutive National Championship title!

Beginning with Individual Season Long awards, both Mickayla Stogsdill and Symantha Gregorash won a National Championship in the Junior Varsity and Novice divisions respectively. Mickayla’s championship saw her placing first out of 191 Season long Junior Varsity competitors, and Symantha’s championship trophy saw her placing first out of 472 Novice competitors! This was Mickayla’s second year in a row winning a National Championship, one from the Novice division and now from Junior Varsity. The Varsity division saw Stephen Boyette earn a 4th-place speaker award out of 416 Varsity competitors.

Moving into the team awards, our team cleaned up in Squad Season Long awards, with our Novice Squad placing third out of 100 competing teams. Our JV Squad rose through the ranks to capture a 4th-place finish on the Season, a marked improvement from their 23rd place finish last season. Out of 104 competing teams, our Varsity division took home a top-ten trophy with their 9th-place finish! Finally, and perhaps most importantly, our team earned a 9-spot improvement from last season, finishing 3rd out of 132 competing schools in the Scholastic award, which is a sum of total points earned by Novice, JV, and Varsity Squad points.

The Tennessee Speech and Debate Society celebrating its season success at the annual end of the year banquet!

The 2016–2017 Season has been yet another outstanding season for this team, with a barrage of trophies to add to our cramped trophy cases. As always, we could not have achieved our successes without the gracious support of our alumni, parents, and University faculty! We look forward to the 2017–2018 Season, and we look forward to more success in the future!

Want to know more about the team? Never miss an update again by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.