Seawolf speakers take top honors in Oregon

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

The Seawolf Debate Team returned to domestic competition on November 10 and 11 when it traveled to McMinnville, Oregon for the Mahaffey Invitational hosted by Linfield College. The tournament featured competition in which 48 debaters represented nine colleges and universities in the worlds style format of debate competition.

This was a breakout tournament, as UAA took five new debaters on the road for the first time this season: Phil Bunker (Junior, Undeclared), Nick Byrne (Junior, English), Drew Cason (Freshman, Biology), Michaela Hernandez (Freshman, Philosophy) and Jennifer Lucas-Duffy (Senior, Psychology).

Over the course of the weekend, the debaters engaged one another on a myriad of controversial topics such as whether or not the U.S. should make all aid to Pakistan contingent upon free and fair democratic elections, whether the U.S. should implement a cap and trade system on all carbon emissions and whether the United Nations should recognize a sovereign and independent Taiwan.

After five grueling rounds of preliminary competition, it was apparent that the Seawolves were in top competitive form. Of the eight teams advancing to the semi-final round of competition, three hailed from Alaska: Nikki Rose (Junior, Political Science) and Jacit Conright (Sophomore, Business Administration); David Childers (Junior, Political Science) and Jennifer Lucas-Duffy (Graduate Student, Psychology); and Ben Ferguson (Junior, Philosophy) and Mike Rose (Senior, Political Science). Furthermore, as the 10th seeded team, Byrne and Cason narrowly missed the cut to the semi-final round.

In the semi-final round, the competitors debated whether or not Kosovo should be recognized as an independent nation. While all the UAA teams argued passionately, only Michael Rose and Ben Ferguson were selected to advance to the final round. In that round, Rose and Ferguson faced competition from two Seattle University teams and a team from Willamette University. The teams argued about the leadership of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, with Rose and Ferguson arguing that Chavez is more likely to harm Venezuela than help it. Their position proved insurmountable to the competition, and Alaska banked its first tournament championship of the season.

In addition to team awards, the Seawolves garnered several individual speaker awards. Childers was ranked as the 6th overall speaker, Ferguson took 3rd speaker, and Rose was only two points away from being the top speaker at the tournament. But perhaps the most important comment on the future of Seawolf Debate is that nine of Alaska's debaters placed in the top 24.

In two weeks, the Seawolves return to international competition at the University of British Columbia's invitational tournament. This will be the team's final tune-up for the World Championships, which will be held in Thailand over the holiday break. For more information please contact Steve Johnson at 786-4391 or Shawn Briscoe at 786-4354.

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