For their last tournament of the season, the Samford Debate Team took a weekend trip to Wake Forest College in North Carolina. The tournament began on Saturday, Nov. 12 and ended on Monday, Nov. 14, and Samford teams at every level–Varsity, Junior Varsity and Novice–saw victories.
The Samford Debate Team has ranked nationally for years, placing fourth overall last year, and two teams ranking nationally at the Varsity level. This semester has seen similar success, with Samford students in all divisions defeating high-ranking teams from Harvard University, Liberty University
, and George Mason University, to name a few.
At Wake Forest, Joey Tarnowski and Aaron Gill competed at the Varsity level and advanced to elimination rounds, defeating Northwestern University, Cornell University
, and New York University. Tarnowksi shared how the victory made him feel.
“For Aaron and I, it’s always our goal to get to elimination rounds at major tournaments like Wake Forest, so being able to accomplish that was a great feeling,” Tarnowski said.
Tarnowski is a junior Law, Politics and Society major. He has been debating long before he was recruited for Samford’s team as a high schooler, and has grown to love the program and what it has taught him.
“Policy debate and its fast paced, often intense environment helps people develop confidence in a way that few other activities do,” Tarnowski said, “to the point that getting up in front of a crowd to give a presentation feels like a walk in the park.”
Grace Blackwell and TJ Riggs competed on the Varsity team and scored victories against James Madison University, Missouri State University
, and Tufts University. Abby Montgomery and Grace Scott competed in the Junior Varsity division and defeated University of Texas at San Antonio.
Two teams in the Novice division placed in the top sixteen at Wake Forest: Ella Ford and Mary Grace Hammond, and Lucy Eubanks and Sarah Chew.
Chew was attending her very first tournament, and expressed how much she enjoys the debate team.
“Being able to join the Samford debate team was a privilege,” Chew said.
Chew emphasized how impressed she was with the intentionality and excellence of all professors involved in the debate program. She said that all of them were more than willing to step up to provide for and take care of their students during the season.
Hammond agreed with Chew’s sentiments on the coaches’ help.
“I definitely do not think we would have done as well without such detailed research from experienced team members and coaches,” Hammond said. “They really did everything in their power to set us up for success.”
This season has also been Hammond’s first debate experience, and she expressed her excitement for the results of the Wake Forest competition.
“I think the outcome of this tournament was the best possible result we could have hoped for,” Hammond said. “I am very proud that we were able to make it as far as we did at a national tournament, especially since neither me [nor] my partner has ever done debate before this year.”
Additionally, Ford won 11th, and Hammond won 19th speaker out of 82 speakers in the Novice division. Libby Hutchinson and Praise Kelly-Williams advanced to the 32nd round, winning against Liberty University, Monmouth University
, and the University of Houston and making it to the top 16 teams.
Ryan Galloway, director of the debate team, stated his expectations for the rest of the semester.
“The team is in a position to compete strongly this year as well as into the future. Our varsity and JV teams are thriving, and the success of the novices illustrates we have a strong foundation,” Galloway said.
After this strong conclusion to the fall season, the members of the Samford Debate Team look forward to another successful semester, namely the National Debate Tournament in March.
“[My] main goal for the rest of the year is definitely for Aaron and I to get to elimination rounds at the National Debate Tournament,” Tarnowski said. “We’re already doing a lot of work for the tournament now, and while it will definitely be our most difficult tournament yet, I’m hoping our work will pay off.”