By Randy Fiedler
Baylor University’s debate teams have gotten off to a strong start this year, winning a championship in their opening tournament of the season hosted by Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York. The team of freshman Ciarra McClinton and junior Jonas Thrasher-Evers was declared tournament champions after nine total rounds of debate.
This year’s national debate topic deals with U.S. defense commitments to NATO, Japan and the Philippines, and the Binghamton tournament was conducted virtually over Zoom.
“This is the first virtual college debate tournament that members of Baylor’s Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum have ever competed in,” said Matthew Gerber, Ph.D., associate professor of communication and the person who leads the debate program as The Glenn R. Capp Chair of Forensics. “For the 2020-2021 academic year, most college debate competitions will be conducted on a modified version of the Zoom platform, which is quite different from the typical, in-person debate format. This season, rather than traveling across the country to gather and compete against our opponents face to face, our teams will hunker down in the Castellaw building’s classrooms for a series of online, socially distanced debates.”
McClinton and Thrasher-Evers posted a 5-1 record in the preliminary rounds of debate. They then defeated Rutgers University in the quarterfinal round, and then beat a team from the University of Houston in the semifinal round. During the tournament’s final round, McClinton and Thrasher-Evens defeated a team from Wake Forest University on a 2-1 decision, giving the Baylor team the championship. Thrasher-Evers was also recognized as the fourth-ranked individual speaker at the tournament, while McClinton was the seventh-ranked speaker.
“In other competition at the Binghamton tournament, our team composed of sophomores Bella Feinauer and Lawson Hudson posted a 3-3 record, battling back from a tough draw on the first day of competition,” Gerber said. “The team of sophomore Katlin Nguyen and junior Tony Wyatt posted a 2-4 record, and debated very well despite losing a couple of close rounds.”
Meanwhile, at an online tournament hosted by Northwestern University, the Baylor team of freshman Chase Laibe and junior Collin Smith posted a 2-4 record, with wins over Purdue University and Missouri State.
The Baylor debate team plans to compete in five virtual tournaments during the Fall 2020 semester, and now has a three-week “break” to fine-tune their arguments before beginning a consecutive run of competitions hosted by Gonzaga University, the University of Central Oklahoma and Wake Forest University.