The PLNU Speech and Debate Team has been giving schools nationwide a run for their money. Now recognized as being ranked third in the nation by the National Parliamentary Debate Association, PLNU stands as the number one program over a 20-year margin. This places them above schools like UCLA, SDSU, Pepperdine and Wheaton.
Team President Frank Daniel said he looks forward to the rest of the tournaments this year and thinks the team will continue to excel.
“Four years ago,” said Daniel in a text message to the Point. “I walked onto a historically strong team with a fresh start. We were not in the top 10. It has been an incredible journey to watch this team grow and stand third in the country with the possibility of first. I’m most excited that the Loma team is young and has a lot of fire to bring into this incredible activity.”
Last semester, the team took first, second and third at three different tournaments. At the Griffith Invitational in late November, for example, nearly all of the novice and junior teams advanced into elimination rounds.
In the junior division at that tournament, the team of freshmen Jack Gillette and Makayla Vandeveer, took silver while Karina Guerrero and Genevieve Aguilar, also freshmen, received bronze. Though novice debaters were much more prevalent than their senior and junior counterparts, according to Forensics Director Skip Rutledge, the upperclassmen were nevertheless successful. Many of the teams received bronze and silver medals, while one team, namely junior Alan Jacques and sophomore Thomas Routson, received the gold.
“It was really humbling,” said Routson about earning the medal. “I felt like I was the Pokémon that I had to use the Master Ball on, instead of the other way around. I felt honored to be at the tournament.”
Debate tournaments split students into three different categories based upon their experience as debaters: novice, junior and open, or senior. In addition to the debate rounds, the entire team participated in a variety of events, including programmed oral interpretation, after-dinner speaking and impromptu, each of which involves a seven to ten minute speech.
Last semester marked a hectic start to the season, with the team attending six tournaments within a period of three weeks. The season is not over yet, however, and members on the team have already begun preparing for tournaments through bi-weekly practices. The first of the semester was the Great Salt Lake Swing, which took place in Utah from Jan. 9 to Jan.11. Only two PLNU teams attended, and each advanced to elimination rounds.
Their next tournament, named Sunset Cliffs Classic Invitational, will take place on PLNU’s campus from Feb. 7 to Feb. 9. The number of schools and teams attending is not yet known. In an email to the faculty, staff and student body, Rutledge expressed gratitude for their aid and understanding.
“Thanks for this community’s continued support in allowing us to participate in this exciting venue, and trying to represent PLNU well in the national academy,” wrote Rutledge. “And thanks for putting up with the hassles that sometime accompany hosting our tournaments, camps and other events. Thanks too for your prayer support for both the upcoming tournaments we host, and those in which we will be competing.”
Disclosure: Autumn Shultz is a member of the debate team.