Truman Debaters Capture Two State Titles, Multiple Statewide Honors

Debaters from the Truman State University Forensic Union captured the 2008 State Debate Sweepstakes Championship at the Missouri Association of Forensic Activities (MAFA) State Tournament, Feb. 15-16. The tournament was hosted by Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar. Additionally, Truman ranked second in the overall sweepstakes race, encompassing performances in both debate and individual public speaking events.

Sweepstakes awards honor the overall performance of a university’s team, including all performances by a team’s students. The debate sweepstakes title honors the overall performance of teams in parliamentary and Lincoln-Douglas debate. Individual events sweepstakes awards focus on individual speaking events, and the overall honor combines the two.

In addition to the sweepstakes honors, Dylan Rothermel, a senior economics major from Homewood, Ill., captured the state championship in extemporaneous speaking. Chris Girouard, a junior political science and communication double major from Chesterfield, Mo., took fifth in the state in the event, while Sarah Backhaus, a freshman political science major from Liberty, Mo., took sixth and was the top-ranked novice.

In Lincoln-Douglas debate, Backhaus and Mark Buchheit, a sophomore history major from Carthage, Mo., each reached semifinals of the tournament. Buchheit advanced to the final round of the division before losing to a competitor from the University of Central Missouri who defeated Backhaus in the semifinal. Truman had three of the top five speakers in the division, with Dylan Clark, a freshman political science and philosophy and religion double major from Maryland Heights, Mo., in third, Buchheit in fourth, and Backhaus in fifth.

In Parliamentary Debate, two Truman teams met in the semifinals of the tournament. The team of Rothermel and Buchheit advanced over the team of Girouard and Barbara Gillard, a freshman political science major from Jackson, Mo., to reach the final round debate against William Jewell College. Buchheit and Rothermel lost the final on a 2-1 decision. Truman had four of the five top speakers in the division as well. Buchheit was the top speaker, followed by Rothermel in second, Girouard in third, and Backhaus in fifth.

Truman has dominated debate results in the MAFA State Championship for most of the last decade winning the debate sweepstakes title and/or one or more of the individual debate event titles nearly every year. The team’s performance in extemporaneous speaking also continues a long history of strength in the event, which involves short speeches on current events topics.

Truman competitors travel next to the Novice National Championships and the National Parliamentary Debate Association Championships in March.
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