Debate Team Does it Again!


Members of the CUI Debate team hold plaques and award trophies they won at the National Parliamentary Debate Association Championship Tournament in March 2019.

CUI’s debate team has done it again, placing second nationwide at the 2019 National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) Championship Tournament. It is the seventh time in eight years they have finished in the top five among all universities, and their run includes two first-place finishes and four second-place finishes. The Eagles are the only squad in the country to place a team in the quarterfinals or higher at nationals for the last five years in a row.

This year, CUI’s squad faced more than the usual challenges as two members suffered health incidents requiring a visit to the hospital during the tournament. But with a clean bill of health, both returned and were able to compete again.

“It was a really hard tournament because a lot of things happened health-wise,” says Yaw Kyeremateng, former director of forensics, “but the great thing about this group is they didn’t stop fighting. They got doctors’ notes and competed and went on to the next rounds.”

...the great thing about this group is they didn’t stop fighting.

Snagging the top prize this year was UC Berkeley, followed by Concordia Irvine, Rice University, Texas Tech University, and Western Washington University. Every team accumulates points for the entire squad, even those teams which don’t advance. Of Concordia’s five teams, three broke into the top sixteen.

“That’s a lot of teams to break into the double octo-finals,” says Kyeremateng. “We were in first place in points by the time the out rounds came.”

Then illness struck, causing two students to miss rounds.

“But with all that happened, we were still able to perform well,” Kyeremateng says.

The teams of Meghan Gleeson and Kaitlyn Gleeson, Denise Sprimont and David Vasquez, and Ryan Corso-Gonzalez and Benjamin Lange, combined for a 6-2 record in preliminary rounds. Seniors Corso-Gonzales and Lange made it to the top eight teams in the country. Lange also received the All-American award for academic and debate excellence.

Juniors Sprimont and Vasquez received eleventh and twelfth place for individual speakers.

First-year novices Breyanna Taylor and Owen Milligan received the second place novice team award. Taylor earned third place for novice speaker.

The coaches worked tremendously hard from beginning to end, putting in extra time to make sure students got the best preparation.

Kyeremateng credits coaches Amanda Ozaki-Laughon ’15, Joseph Laughon ’15 and Judith Teruya ’18—all CUI forensics alumni—for much of the program’s success.

“The coaches worked tremendously hard from beginning to end, putting in extra time to make sure students got the best preparation,” he says. “It all paid off. This level of success would not be possible without the knowledge, passion and work ethic of our outstanding coaches.”

The group is looking forward to next year because the squad is young and losing just two students to graduation.

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