ISU Headlines

Idaho State University Rupp debate team ranked 18th in nation

Posted October 5, 2009

The season’s first Cross Examine Debate Association/National Debate Tournament coach’s poll is out and Idaho State University’s James M. and Sharon E. Rupp debate team is ranked 18th in the nation. The team started the season several weeks ago with strong showings at its first two tournaments.

 “We’re excited about the coaches' poll,” said Sarah Partlow, ISU’s director of debate, “but we’re even more excited about the team’s early performance. We’ve really started out strong this year.”    

At the team’s first tournament of the year at Gonzaga University, Daniel Jennings and Tony Johnson, finished in ninth position out of more than 40 teams. At a much larger and more prestigious tournament at Georgia State, the same team made it to the round of 16.

“Making it that far in this large tournament places them squarely in the national spotlight,” Partlow said.

The team’s quick start this year is partly the result of a strong freshman class of students who come from Washington state and the Boise area.

 “The new students are really energizing the team and providing a lot of additional help in terms of research and case development,” said assistant coach Scott Odekirk.

In addition, Partlow and Odekirk have been experimenting with video recording technology to improve performance.

“We recorded the elimination debate at Gonzaga,” said Odekirk, “and a thorough review of that event really helped us at Georgia State. Northwestern University is the only other school we know of that’s integrated this technology into coaching as thoroughly as we have.” 

ISU will host the annual James M. Rupp debate tournament Oct. 16-19, which will include approximately 30 teams from the University of Puget Sound, Arizona State University, the University of Wyoming, the University of Denver, Gonzaga University, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. After that, the team heads to Harvard in October and Wake Forest in November.

Of course, no matter how busy this year gets it will still seem like a vacation to Partlow and Odekirk, who planned and hosted the Cross Examination Debate Association Nationals Debate Tournament at ISU last March. This event, which included more than

450 debaters and coaches from across the country, raised ISU’s profile on a national level and showed off the university’s world-class facilities and many outstanding graduate programs to this audience of top-quality undergraduates.

“The event went off without even a glitch, thanks to the efforts of Partlow and Odekirk,” said Jim DiSanza, chair of the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies. “What these two have done and continue to do for our debate team, the department, and ISU has been amazing.”