Debaters Reach "Sweet 16" at Nationals, Rank 8th Nationally for Season

Truman's eight-year streak of national elimination-round competition in debate was maintained by 12 members of the Truman Forensic Union at the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) National Championships held March 24-27 at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore.
Two hundred and sixty-three teams, from 91 colleges and universities, began the competition, which culminated in a national title awarded to the University of Puget Sound. The field included representatives from a majority of states, the People's Republic of China and Slovakia.

Truman's team of Meghana Kunkala, a senior biology major from Chino, Calif., and Dylan Rothermel, a sophomore economics major from Homewood, Ill., reached the octafinal, or "Sweet 16," round of the tournament before losing to a team from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., the defending National Champions. The team out-lasted representatives of several regional and national powers, including the University of Missouri-Columbia, Drury University, the University of Wyoming, the United States Air Force Academy and Creighton University.

Additionally, the team of Christopher Girouard, a sophomore political science and Spanish double major from Chesterfield, Mo., and Jason Mo, a sophomore chemistry major from Chesterfield, Mo., reached the triple-octafinals, which is the second in a series of seven elimination rounds arrayed in a single-elimination bracket similar to the NCAA basketball tournament. Roughly the top third of the national tournament field survives to the single-elimination phase.

In season-long sweepstakes, Truman placed eighth nationally. The season-long sweepstakes system attempts to rank programs nationally based on their performance for the duration of the competitive year. It looks at a program's best four teams at a given tournament, and more specifically at their performance during four preliminary and two elimination debates. These scores are then compared with the 256 other nationally-ranked debate programs to determine relative strength.

"This is the seventh consecutive year that Truman has ranked in the top ten of at least one of the three accepted mechanisms for ranking parliamentary debate programs nationally," Kevin Minch, director of forensics, said. "At various times we have won the national team championship, or placed in the top 10 of programs at the national championships or in season-long standings. I am always satisfied when we can maintain this standing in at least one aspect of our program."

Additional teams contributing to the team's overall standing at the national tournament were:
Trevor Alexander, a senior economics and English double major from Gladstone, Mo., and Christopher Dove, a sophomore biology and sociology/anthropology double major from Chesterfield, Mo.; Sara Archer, a junior pre-business administration and pre-accounting double major from Riverside, Mo, and Stefani Wittenauer, a junior communication and political science double major from Belleville, Ill.; Kevin Haynie, a freshman political science major from Bridgeton, Mo., and Todd Turner, a freshman communication major from Chesterfield, Mo.; Elizabeth Hobbs, a senior biology major from Newton, Mo., and Keith Schnakenberg, a junior political science and communication double major from Buffalo, Mo.

For most Truman competitors, this marks the conclusion of the competitive season. The squad will wrap-up its competitive season April 20-22 with the Interstate Oratorical Competition in Pensacola, Fla.
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