Debate team wins second consecutive national title

By Whitney Jones

Union University’s debate team celebrated its second consecutive national championship win after defeating a rival school by one point in a tie-breaking round April 10.

Twenty Union students competed against more than a dozen schools at the International Public Debate Association National Championship Tournament held at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

The debate team competed in three tiebreaker rounds before scoring the extra point that led them to victory over a team from Louisiana State University, Shreveport.

Jordan Hughey, junior biology major and team captain, said the extra rounds were exciting for the team, which has only existed for three years.

“After a long year of hard work it was good to have that kind of a neck-and-neck finish (and) be able to pull out the win,” Hughey said. “It’s just a really thrilling position to be in also because it’s our third year, and we have won nationals for two consecutive years.”

In addition to capturing the national title, the debate team won the Scholastic Sweepstakes, Novice Sweepstakes and Varsity Sweepstakes. Individual awards were given to team members according to their skill level, or division. Hughey placed second in the professional division and Kylie McDonald, sophomore political science major, ranked 10th in varsity. In the novice division, Kevin Moss, freshman engineering and computer science double major, took second place and Abby Williams, freshman music major, followed in fourth place.

Dr. Web Drake, associate professor of communication arts, department chair and debate coach, said he was proud because two consecutive national wins is “an impressive accomplishment.”

The team did not do as well earlier in the season as it had last year, but Drake said the students continued to work hard, which worked in their favor at the final competition.

Dr. Gene Fant, vice president for academic administration and dean of Arts and Sciences, praised Drake as “a super, high-energy expert” and said the back-to-back win was a significant accomplishment, especially since this year the debate team transitioned from being a first-year to an ongoing program.

“The team has worked particularly hard this year … because last year they were novices, and they could really rack up a lot of points that way,” Fant said.

“They have more experience, so it was a different kind of competition. They really had to show a lot of flexibility and hard work.”

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.