The debate team at the University of Arkansas at Monticello brought home 27 individual and four team awards, including the team championship of the Southern Forensics Championship Tournament hosted recently by the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Competing against a who’s who of the top collegiate debate and forensics teams, UAM was also named the Arkansas State Debate Champion and the Arkansas State Combined Debate and Individual Events Champion while placing third in the Combined Debate and Individual Events Sweepstakes.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my team,” said Jim Evans, director of debate and forensics at UAM. “They were competing against some of the best debate teams in the country and showed that they were not only equal to but better than most of the top debaters in the country.”

The event drew top debate students from Drury University, Stephen F. Austin, the College of the Mainland, Morehouse College, The King’s College, Northwestern Louisiana State, Texas Christian, Mississippi State, Arkansas Tech, West Florida, Louisiana College, John Brown University, Middle Tennessee State, LSU, Florida State, William Carey, Lee College, Southern Methodist, Southern Mississippi, Central Arkansas, Bossier Parish Community College, Louisiana-Lafayette, LSU-Shreveport and Arkansas State.

In lieu of individual trophies, tournament sponsors presented individual winners with certificates and used the money traditionally spent on trophies to make a $2,000 donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis in the name of the 25 colleges and universities competing in the tournament.

UAM’s individual winners, and their awards, included:

• Blake Adkins of Vilonia, fourth place International Public Debate Association (IPDA) junior varsity speaker and IPDA junior varsity octofinalist;

• Gauge Adkins of Vilonia, IPDA junior varsity champion speaker, IPDA junior varsity Arkansas state champion speaker, and IPDA junior varsity octofinalist;

• Cody Bijou of Crosby, Tex., IPDA varsity champion speaker, IPDA varsity Arkansas state champion speaker, PIDA varsity Arkansas state champion, IPDA varsity second place, IPDA Arkansas state champion speaker, team IPDA Arkansas state champion speaker, team IPDA Arkansas state champion, and team IPDA quarterfinalist;

• Jacob Chisom of Monticello, IPDA varsity semifinalist;

• Reagan Dobbs of Dayton, Tex., IPDA varsity semifinalist, IPDA varsity Arkansas state runner-up, team IPDA Arkansas state champion, second place team IPDA speaker, and team IPDA quarterfinalist;

• Ben Graves of Hot Springs, IPDA professional semifinalist, IPDA professional Arkansas state runner-up, and fifth place IPDA professional speaker;

• Kyle Hargis of Warren, IPDA junior varsity Arkansas state champion, PDA junior varsity second place, impromptu speaking Arkansas state champion, editorial impromptu Arkansas state champion, and was voted to be the Arkansas state Southern Forensics Championship student representative;

• Gabe McDorman of Sheridan, extemporaneous speaking Arkansas state champion and extemporaneous speaking novice champion.

Also competing for UAM were Samhitsi Aumagamanaia of Roswell, N.M., Luke Beatty of Dermott, Natalie Craig of Sherwood, Jordan Lakin of Cabot, Emily Mendiola of Warren, Abbygail Rounsaville of Mabelvale and Zach Young of Monticello.

Pictured above are members of UAM’s Southern Forensics Champion debate team, they are (from left): Cody Bijou, Jordan Lakin, Kyle Hargis, Luke Beatty, Gauge Adkins, Jacob Chisom, Blake Adkins, Reagan Dobbs, Zach Young, Abbygail Rounsaville, Ben Graves, Natalie Craig and Gabe McDorman.