The debate team at the University of Arkansas at Monticello is national champions.
UAM debaters swept the Scholastic, Founders and Overall Sweepstakes Awards at the 2015-16 International Public Debate Association (IPDA) National Tournament hosted March 31 through April 3 by Lee College of Baytown, Texas.
The event drew more than 450 competitors from some of the top college and university debate programs in the nation, including Southern Methodist University, the University of Tennessee, Louisiana State University, the University of Southern Mississippi, Boise State University, the U.S. Military Academy, Colorado Christian University, Seattle Pacific University, Florida International University and Oregon State University.
“This is an incredible honor for our team and for the university,” said Jim Evans, UAM debate coach and instructor of communication. “Our students went against the best competition in the country and proved they can compete with anyone. Honestly, they surprised me a little with how dominant they were.”
Members of UAM’s national champion team are pictured above. From left, first row, Nathan Bailey of Monticello, Gabrielle Swain of Monticello, Cody Bijou of Crosby, Texas, Reagan Dobbs of Dayton, Texas and Emily Mendiola of Hamburg. Second row, from left, Jacob Chisom of Monticello, Luke Beatty of Dermott, Kyle Hargis of Warren, Gauge Adkins of Vilonia. Back row, from left, Ben Graves of Hot Springs, Keith Milstead, assistant debate coach, Jim Evans, head debate coach, and Blake Adkins of Vilonia.
The IPDA national championship is UAM’s second, and the first since the 2007-08 academic year. UAM debaters posted a winning percentage of 71 percent with 79 percent advancing past the preliminary rounds.
The competition included eight preliminary rounds in four divisions – novice, junior varsity, varsity and professional, as well as four preliminary rounds in team competition. Awards were presented based on both national tournament performances and season-long competition.
In addition to winning all three national tournament sweepstakes competitions, UAM debaters won five individual national championships.
Reagan Dobbs, a junior political science major from Dayton, Texas, was the national champion speaker in varsity debate at the national tournament in a field of 109 competitors.
Cody Bijou, a junior communications and political science double major from Crosby, Texas, bested 381 competitors to capture the national championship as the top debater in the varsity division in season-long competition.
Gabrielle Swain of Monticello, a senior communications major, was the season-long novice debate national champion in a field of 493 competitors.
In the professional division, Chris Brown, an assistant debate coach and instructor, captured a pair of national championships as the top season-long speaker and debater.
UAM also won season-long team national championships in novice and varsity debate.
Other individual award winners at the national tournament were:
• Jacob Chisom, a junior history and communications double major from Monticello, who was the seventh place speaker in team debate, teamed with Swain to reach the quarterfinals in the team competition, and reached the round of 16 in varsity debate;
• Dobbs and Bijou, who combined to reach the semifinals in team debate and were quarterfinalists in varsity debate;
• Swain, second place debater and 10th place speaker in the novice division;
• Nathan Bailey of Monticello, a sophomore agriculture business major, who was the fourth place speaker in novice debate;
• Blake Adkins of Vilonia, a junior computer information systems major, who was the 11th place speaker in the novice division and reached the round of 16;
• Kyle Hargis of Warren, a sophomore communications major, who reached the round of 16 in novice debate;
• Luke Beatty, a sophomore business major from Dermott, who reached the round of 32 in junior varsity debate;
• Gauge Adkins of Vilonia, a sophomore criminal justice and political science double major, who reached the round of 16 in junior varsity debate;
Competing for UAM in the professional division were:
• UAM alumnus Kelly Brown of Siloam Springs, the seventh place debate speaker who reached the round of 16;
• Chris Brown, who in addition to his two individual national championships, was the eighth place debate speaker and reached the round of 16;
• Jonathon Hoskins of Monticello, who reached the round of 16;
• Justin Walker of Monticello, a quarterfinalist;
• Eddie Weaver of DeWitt, a semifinalist.
Season-long awards went to:
• Bijou and Dobbs, who earned second place in the team debate sweepstakes. Dobbs was the sixth place team debate speaker while also earning the second place speaker and fifth place debater award in the varsity division. Bijou was the sixth place speaker in varsity debate;
• Chisom and Weaver, who placed eighth in team debate and Chisom the sixth place debater in the varsity division;
• Swain, third place speaker; Gauge Adkins, second place speaker and 10th place debater, and Kyle Hargis, fourth place debater, in the novice debate division;
• Ben Graves, a junior business major from Hot Springs, the fifth place speaker in junior varsity debate;
• Kelly Brown was the eighth place professional speaker.
• UAM placed second in the season-long overall debate sweepstakes and won the novice and varsity divisions while placing second in the team and professional divisions.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]