The Belmont Abbey Debate Team returned from Spokane, Washington on Wednesday, March 28 after competing in the International Public Debate Association’s National Championship. In individual debate, four of six students broke into the top 32 for their divisions, and all advanced into the top 16 rounds.
In novice, freshman Anastasjiah McGriff won five of eight preliminary rounds, advancing to double-octofinals. She won her first elimination round against the University of Tennessee- Knoxville before placing as an octofinalist in her next round. Freshman Hunter Owen earned a 3-5 preliminary record, placing him a ballot away from potential advancement. In junior varsity, Adrianna Hodges was two ballots away from potential advancement.
In varsity, all three team members advanced to the double-octofinal round. Seniors Mary Rose Stepnowski and Eric Swartz each earned 5-3 records, while Logan Torve’s 7-1 record placed him as the first seed in elimination rounds and second overall varsity speaker at the National Championship. In double-octofinals, the three upperclassmen collected eight of nine possible ballots, defeating debaters from Boise State University, Drury University, and the University of Arkansas- Monticello. Logan and Mary Rose each concluded their individual tournaments as varsity octofinalists in the next round. Eric continued into the quarterfinals round in which he debated the merits of Just War Theory, but ultimately tied for fifth place in varsity on a 1-2 decision against Bossier Parish College.
In team debate, Logan Torve and Mary Rose Stepnowski went 3-1 in preliminary rounds, advancing to octofinals. They won both octofinals and quarterfinals before placing third overall after dropping on a 1-2 decision in quarterfinals. Logan Torve also won ninth top speaker overall in the division. Eric Swartz and Hunter Owen went 2-2, barely missing elimination rounds. Freshmen duo Anastasjiah McGriff and Isabelle Robertson went 1-3 in varsity-level competition, setting them up well for continued novice and junior varsity debate next year.
This concludes the regular season for our team, though we do still have two remaining tournaments for a few upperclassmen. The next competition will be at George Washington University and the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. April 7-8. We are also excited to announce that we have been accepted as competitors at the United States Universities British Parliamentary Championships April 14-16, hosted at Stanford University.