Debate team clinches fifth place at tournament

By Gus Bode

While many students spent the weekend in costumes, the SIUC debate team spent it in competition.

The team took part in the James “Al” Johnson Forensic Invitational at Colorado College from Oct. 27 to Oct. 29 and placed fifth place out of 80 two-member teams representing 35 universities.

This weekend’s honors are not the first for SIUC’s debate team. In fact, members usually claim top prizes at many competitions they enter. Last year, they claimed the top title in a tournament at William Jewell College, which hosted over 100 other teams.


Todd Graham, director of speech communication and the debate team, said SIUC entered three teams in the competition.

Debates included “limiting the powers of the president,” “changing the foreign policy toward North Korea,” and “U.S. decrease in domestic oil consumption.”

Graham said two teams from SIUC advanced to the elimination round, during which teams debate until they lose.

Ariell Rogers, a sophomore from Chicago studying pre-medicine, and Katie Thomas, a sophomore from Ft. Collins, Colo., studying political science, won their first debate in the elimination round, beating the University of Wyoming, but lost their second debate.

“I know we saw progress between our first tournament and this second one,” Thomas said. “Some of it was very minute, but was still progress.”

The team of Justin Hingtgen, a senior from Des Moines, Iowa, studying management, and Kyle Dennis, a junior from Kansas City, Mo., studying economics, beat universities from Long Beach, N.Y., and Utah in the first two debates of the elimination round but lost the third debate to William Jewell College, coming out with a fifth place finish.

“The competition was some of the best from around the country,” Hingtgen said.


Colorado College will host the national championship in the spring, which SIUC’s team plans to attend.

“This weekend was a good prep for nationals,” Dennis said.

The team’s next competition will be from Dec. 27 to Jan. 4 in Vancouver. A few hundred teams from around the world will be competing for the title.

Hingtgen said the competition will be fierce, and the team’s main goal is to reach the elimination rounds.

For nationals, the goals are higher. Hingtgen referenced Duke University’s consistent basketball victories in outlining them.

“We want to be the Duke of debate,” Hingtgen said.

Alexis Boudreau can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 255 or [email protected]