The debate team at the University of Arkansas at Monticello is enjoying a strong fall semester in competitions in Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana and may be in position to win the school’s first national championship in debate since the 2007-08 academic year, according to Debate Coach Jim Evans.

“This is as good a team as we’ve had in a while and we’ve had a very strong fall semester,” says Evans. “I don’t want to jinx us, but I believe this team has a chance to do very well in the national championship competition.”

UAM participates in the International Public Debate Association’s (IPDA) season-long competition and will also compete at the IPDA National Tournament and Convention at Lee College in Baytown, Texas on March 31 through April 3. National championships are awarded for both season-long competition and performance at the national tournament.

UAM began the season by winning the team IPDA sweepstakes competition at a tournament hosted by Lee College in September. UAM placed second in the individual IPDA sweepstakes and second in the overall sweepstakes. Reagan Dobbs of Dayton, Texas and Cody Bijou of Crosby, Texas teamed to reach the semifinals in team IPDA competition at Lee College. They were joined in the semifinals by Eddie Weaver of DeValls Bluff and Jacob Chisom of Monticello. Gauge Adkins of Vilonia won the novice IPDA debate competition while Dobbs received individual first place awards in IPDA varsity debate and IPDA varsity speaker.

Evans and UAM hosted the annual Weevil Wars Debate Tournament in October and continued to bring home multiple individual awards. Weaver and Chisom placed second in team IPDA debate and Bijou was named first place varsity speaker.

At a tournament at Union University in Tennessee, UAM won the first place sweepstakes award. Adkins was named first place novice IPDA speaker and Ben Graves of Hot Springs won the first place speaker award in the junior varsity division. In the professional division, UAM instructor Chris Brown captured first place honors in IPDA debate while fellow instructor and assistant debate coach Keith Milstead won the first place professional speaker award.

UAM followed up the Tennessee competition by placing second in the debate sweepstakes at a tournament hosted by LSU-Shreveport. The team of Dobbs and Bijou won the team IPDA debate competition and Chris Brown was named the first place individual speaker and debater in the professional division.

In the most recent competition, UAM placed second in the overall sweepstakes competition at East Texas Baptist University with Gabrielle Swain of Monticello winning the novice debate division. Brown was again the first place individual speaker in the professional division.

Evans will take his team to Clinton, Mississippi, December 4-5 for a tournament hosted by Mississippi College.