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By MONICA KELLY mak012@latech



The Magnolia State was good to Tech. Tech’s showing this past weekend at Mississippi College’s “Deep South Debates” tournament was the icing on the cake for Tech’s new national debate champions.

Trey Gibson, director of debate and a speech instructor, said the team went into the Mississippi College-Clinton tournament looking to seal the deal.

“We took just enough competitors to compete and prevent other schools from gaining points to take over the top,” Gibson said. “We ended up winning the season sweepstakes. It is kind of like how Duke finished number one in the men’s basketball rankings for the season.”

Gibson said the debate team’s attainment from the International Public Debate Association is called the “Founder’s Award,” and the team received it because of its exceptional results in the three debate divisions.

“If my calculations are correct, we are first place nationally in the varsity and novice divisions and second in the open division,” Gibson said.

Gibson said the IPDA also awards the top ten individuals in each division by a point system.

“We are first in the open division, we had a second and eighth place finish in the varsity division, and we swept first, second and third in the novice division,” Gibson said.

Gibson said before the season started, he predicted this group of novice debaters would be the best he had ever coached, and he turned out to be right.

“The novice debaters did so well each tournament that we would have to sit them out in order for them to stay eligible,” Gibson said. “If you reach the semi-finals in three tournaments, you are ineligible and will have to move out of the novice division. Most of our debaters ran this risk.”

The next move for the debate team is a national championship tournament, April 7-9 at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

After that, Matt LaCaze, a member of the debate team and a junior political science major, will compete solo in a separate national tournament April 21 in Pensacola, Fla.

LaCaze said this tournament consists of the top 100 oratorical speakers in the country, and the top two from each state.

“I am one of two from Louisiana and am preparing hard to finish on top,” LaCaze said. “This is the first time in three years that Tech has qualified, and my first time to go.”

Gibson said he will be traveling with LaCaze and other members of the team to cheer on their teammate.

“We also highly encourage spectators at the ULM tournament,” Gibson said.

For more information about the upcoming debates, contact Gibson at 257-4764.

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