Freshmen Dominate Two Divisions of Webster Tournament, Varsity Reach Quarterfinals

Members of the Truman Forensic Union posted a strong showing in multiple divisions at Webster University’s “Gorlok Gala” Jan. 25-27, including tournament championships in two divisions and a strong finish in a third.

Barbara Gillard, a freshman from Jackson, Mo., with a 4-2 preliminary round record, captured the tournament championship of the junior Lincoln-Douglas debate division after a 3-0 decision over her opponent from McKendree College. Her colleagues, Jennifer Wilborn, a freshman from Overland Park, Kan., and Mehdi Zaidi, a freshman from Chesterfield, Mo., captured the tournament championship in novice parliamentary debate with a 4-2 preliminary round record and a final round defeat of Ohio’s Cedarville College on a 3-0 decision. Gillard was the fifth-ranked speaker in her division.

In varsity-level parliamentary debate, the team of Mark Buchheit, a sophomore from Carthage, Mo., and Dylan Rothermel, a senior from Homewood, Ill., reached the quarterfinals of the tournament before losing to the eventual finalists from Southern Illinois University (Carbondale, Ill.). Buchheit was ranked seventh speaker in the division. Rothermel was ranked ninth in the varsity division of Lincoln-Douglas debate. Additional teams from Truman composed of Sarah Backhaus, a freshman from Liberty, Mo., and Dylan Clark, a freshman from Maryland Heights, Mo., as well as Gillard and Chris Girouard, a junior from Chesterfield, Mo., amassed sufficient preliminary round records to reach elimination rounds, but were edged-out by teams with a statistical advantage in speaker points, the first tie-breaker.

“While our senior students continue to impress us with their consistency, we are equally excited about our successful freshman class,” said Kevin Minch, director of forensics. “The majority of our team is now composed of freshmen, and we acquired an additional six recruits at semester. In only two weeks one of these new recruits has already made it to a tournament championship. Their potential is exciting.”

The rest of the new recruits will make their inaugural appearance in the junior division of the Air Force Academy Tournament, the weekend of the Feb. 7-10.

The Forensic Union is an academic and competitive program of the Department of Communication. Students interested in the program should contact Minch at 785.5677 or for more information. The program’s Web site can be located at
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