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This item originally appeared in the April 8, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.

By SHARON MOORE

Staff Writer

Tech's debate team is the highest ranking team in the nation, Trey Gibson, debate team coach and an instructor of speech, said.

In the last tournament of the regular debate season, the university group won eight trophies and placed second in the tournament.

"It means we're the best team for the entire year," Gibson said.

The ranking is based on a compilation of points earned per team for the regular season. Gibson said the university team won 290 points for the season.

Winners of the novice division were:

-- Mallory Hawthorne, a junior speech major, was a quarterfinalist.

-- Bill Willis, a sophomore speech major, won the division and was the second-place speaker in the tournament.

Winners of the varsity division were:

-- Lynsie Fielder, a senior speech communications major, was a quarterfinalist.

-- Levy Leatherman, a senior French and history double major, was a semifinalist and fifth-place speaker

-- Kris Lucas, a freshman political science major, was an octafinalist.

Gibson won first place in the open division and was the third place speaker.

Leatherman said it was a pretty good weekend altogether, and the team has the most points overall in the nation.

"It's not official until after nationals," Leatherman said, "but there are no other chances to accumulate points."

Gibson said the team earned almost 60 points at the all-day competition Sunday.

"Everything just worked out for us," Gibson said.

Team captain Sheldon Clark, a senior business management and entrepreneurship major, said the team really elevated their level of debating. Clark said the tournament was two rounds longer than average, with eight rounds instead of six.

"Those extra two rounds can really take an effect on someone," Clark said. "At the end of six rounds, you're exhausted. Then you add two more rounds."

Clark said there is really no superstar on the team, and everyone contributes.

"That's very important," Clark said. "That's what this team was built on."

When Gibson came to the university, he said he had a five-year program for building a team.

"I wanted the fifth year to be a contention at being national champions, with contention being the key word," he said. "This team has achieved in four years what I only wanted a shot at in five."

Fielder said she is very proud to be part of the team and was as proud of her coach as her team.

"Our coach, he's the best," Fielder said. "I just can't say anything else."


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