The OBU debate team continued their winning ways at their third tournament of the semester Nov. 1-3 in Louisiana. The Red River Swing tournament was hosted by Louisiana Tech University and Louisiana State University in Shreveport. The competition featured more than 200 competitors from 12 different colleges and universities.

The team brought home their first championship of the year in the novice division. Sophomore Violet Webber had a perfect record, finishing the preliminary rounds of the tournament with a record of six wins to no losses. She went on to win the competition in her division without losing a single round. She also won first place speaker in her division.

Members of the team competed in numerous individual events, with competitors in the areas of impromptu speaking and informative speaking. Freshman Gracie Pipes placed third and sixth in the informative speaking category.

In the varsity division, sophomore Mitchell Sadler qualified for quarter finals. In the junior varsity division, sophomore Canyon McGee was awarded sixth highest speaker. Debate president and OBU senior Joy Rhodes qualified for quarterfinals and was awarded fourth highest speaker. Emma Busby made quarterfinals and was awarded second speaker. Josh Morgan qualified for quarterfinals.

In the novice division of individual debate, the team advanced five of their six competitors to elimination rounds. Ashlyn Philpot made double octo-finals, while Koal Manis made octo-finals. Gracie Pipes qualified for quarterfinals and was awarded fourth highest speaker, while Maggie West qualified for semi-finals.

OBU Debate also brought home multiple team awards, including fifth place in individual events, third place in individual debate and fourth place overall, competing across all events. The team also won third place in sweepstakes, which measures success in debate competitions exclusively.

Earlier in the semester, the team had great success in two other tournaments as well. Their first competition of the season came in September in the Mendoza Debates at Lee College in Baytown, Texas. The team finished in second place overall, winning sweepstakes.

During that competition, sophomore Carson Kroenke finished as a finalist as well as fifth place speaker in the varsity division. Sophomore Mitch Sadler finished as a quarterfinalist, also in the varsity division, while Emma Busby was a quarterfinalist in the junior varsity division. In the novice division, Gracie Pipes was the third place speaker and Koal Mannis was a quarterfinalist.

OBU Debate also traveled to Louisiana Tech University, for their second tournament of the semester. At that tournament, the team placed third overall in the team debate division as well as third overall in the individual division.

In the team division, the duo of Carson Kroenke and Mitchel Sadler were quarterfinalists. In the Novice division, Julia Jolly and Violet Webber were octo-finalists, and Webber was also the third highest speaker. In the junior varsity division, Canyon McGee and Joy Rhodes were octo-finalists. Mitch Sadler was an octo-finalist in varsity, while Carson Kroenke, Koal Manis, Emily LeRoi and Josh Morgan also advanced beyond preliminary rounds. In total, the team had 10 competitors advance out of the 17 attending the tournament.

Scot Loyd sponsors the team. He is the director of forensics and debate at OBU as well as assistant professor of communication studies.

“This is a great start to what promises to be a wonderful fourth season for the resurgent OBU Debate program,” he said. “Debate is an activity that prepares our students for the challenges of civil discourse in an increasingly divided world. Debate challenges participants to think critically about difficult and complex issues facing our society and world. The speaking and thinking skills obtained through the activity of debate equip students to always ‘seek first to understand then to be understood’ as we operate from the perspective of engaging those who disagree with us from a position of respect and not hostility. As Christians, these activities better prepare our students to engage the world with the truth of the gospel of Christ, being ‘prepared to give an answer to all those who ask with gentleness and respect.’” [1 Peter 3:15]

The debate team at OBU launched in 2016. Last year, OBU Debate’s novice team placed third at nationals. This year for the first time, the team has competitors in every division: novice, junior varsity, varsity and professional. The team plans to attend a total of seven tournaments during the 2019-20 school year.

For more information about OBU, visit www.okbu.edu.