Baylor Debate Team Advances to Sweet 16 Round of the National Debate Tournament

Baylor Debate Advances to Sweet 16 in NDT
Baylor University's nationally ranked Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the National Debate Tournament in March.
April 9, 2018

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
Follow Baylor Media Communications on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (April 9, 2018) – Baylor University’s nationally ranked Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the National Debate Tournament (NDT) held March 23-26 at Wichita State University.

“Baylor's run to the Sweet 16 at the NDT was a true testament to the power of teamwork,” said Matthew Gerber, Ph.D, associate professor of communication and The Capp Chair of Forensics in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences. “While Andrew Barron and Greg Zoda were slogging through 10 rounds of debate, each of which lasts about three hours, there was a small army of graduate assistant coaches and other Baylor debaters behind the scenes, doing research and fine-tuning the arguments that the team would make in the debates. Without their tireless help, success at the highest levels of college debate would not be possible."

Baylor’s team of Barron, a senior political science major from Pflugerville, Texas, and Zoda, a junior political science and communication major from Nashua, New Hampshire, held a 5-3 preliminary record with wins over the University of Georgia; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; George Mason University; University of Wyoming; and Wayne State University. This winning preliminary record qualified the team for the elimination debates, pitting them against a team from Harvard University.

“My partner and I were consistently a top-25 team throughout the season, and we had a lot of motivation to perform well at the national tournament,” said Barron, who just accepted a Dean's Fellowship Scholarship to Berkeley Law School. “We spent all year researching the nuances of health care reform and the legal issues surrounding the medical system. We often approached such debates with a unique perspective regarding the racial disparities in medical coverage. I feel confident that the legal, political and social issues I’ve discussed in debate will help me to succeed in law school.”

Baylor posted a narrow 3-2 victory against Harvard to earn a spot in the Sweet 16. The team’s run at the NDT came to an end in the Sweet 16, with a loss to another Harvard team, this one the top seed in the NDT. The University of Kansas ultimately won the national championship, defeating Georgetown University in the final debate.

Baylor also was represented by a second team at the 2018 NDT. Elan Wilson, a freshman political science major afrom Pflugerville, Texas, and Alec Ramsey, a junior anthropology major from Lindale, Texas, posted a 4-4 record, securing victories over Cornell University, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University and Arizona State.

Baylor’s team of Alaina Walberg, a senior accounting major from Olathe, Kansas, and Alden Conner, a junior communication major from Shreveport, Louisiana, narrowly missed qualifying for the NDT, but made it to the semifinals of the Mid-America debate championships in February.

The Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum spent most of the 2017-18 season ranked in the national Top 10, and three of the four top debaters will return next season. The team finished the season ranked 11th in NDT varsity points and first in their CEDA region.

The Capp Forum is the oldest co-curricular activity on Baylor’s campus, dating back to 1845, the year the University was founded by the Republic of Texas. Baylor has won three national championships in debate (1975, 1987, 1989), and appeared in nine Final Four competitions since the inception of the NDT in 1947.

The team, housed in the department of communication, is directed by Gerber and Scott Varda, Ph.D., associate professor of communication. The team also is assisted by several graduate assistant coaches who volunteer their time and expertise: Amrut Chowdhury, Lucia Scott, Jack Lassiter, Josh Michael, Dan Stanfield, Jesse Smith and Fielding Montgomery.

To learn more about the Baylor debate team, visit the Baylor Debate website.

by Brooke Battersby, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?