Posted December 6, 2006
After placing third at last year’s Cross-Examination Debate Association National Debate Championship Tournament, the Idaho State University debate squad hit the road this fall hoping to capitalize on last year’s success. So far, the James M. and Sharon E. Rupp Debate team has won more than 60 percent of its preliminary debates, earned 11 individual speaker awards, been seeded among the top 25 teams eight times, and placed in the top 10 seven times.
The fall started out with the ISU debate team’s appearance on College Sports Television’s 2 Go’s: The National Collegiate Debate Championship. The program is aired on College Sports Television, which is available on either Dish Network or Direct TV. This yearly production follows two or three schools, including ISU, through their rounds at the National Debate Tournament’s championship weekend. Featured extensively in the show were Jessica Yeats and Izak Dunn, who were one of only 16 teams nationally to be given a pre-bid to the tournament. Although Yeats and Dunn were disappointed in their NDT performance, their coach, Sarah Partlow-Lefevre was pleased about the exposure that ISU received.
“This kind of coverage is difficult to achieve and we’re thrilled to have been a part of it,” Partlow-Lefevre said.
ISU’s fall travel schedule began with a strong showing at Gonzaga University. Four teams from ISU competed in a field of 40 teams from across the United States. The team of Paul Montreuil and Aaron Dekeyzer was seeded 14th after six preliminary debates and ended the tournament tied for ninth. Dekeyzer also was recognized as the 20th speaker. The team of Jessica Yeats and Nichelle Klosterboer was seeded sixth after prelims and finished fifth after losing their quarterfinals debate to Berkeley. Yeats won the award for the second speaker in a field of 80 competitors.
In the next tournament at Berkeley, ISU junior varsity debaters Megan DeMasters and Danielle Jennings took first place, and Jennings was ranked the third speaker and DeMasters the first. “They have certainly proven themselves and will be competing in the Varsity division from now on,” said Partlow-Lefevre referring to the young debaters.
In Berkeley, varsity debaters Aaron Dekeyzer and Paul Montreuil tied for fifth place after earning the third seed in preliminary debates. Dekeyzer was the eighth speaker and Montreuil was 28th.
After a disappointing turn of events at Kentucky, where the number-one team of Yeats and Klosterboar did not clear to elimination rounds, the team headed to Pepperdine University where Klosterboer and Dekeyzer debated together for the first time and won 66 percent of their preliminary rounds. Klosterboer was the 22nd speaker and Dekeyzer was 23rd.
Harvard is lovely in the fall and that’s where ISU headed next, to an elite tournament against the top 60 teams in the country.
“Harvard is what we in the debate community like to call a ‘bloodbath,’” Partlow-Lefevre said. “Even the highest-level teams fear the intense level of competition.”
Despite the cutthroat competition, the newly formed team of Jessica Yeats and Paul Montreuil made ISU proud as they sailed through preliminary debates with a 6-2 (75 percent) record placing them in the 9th seed for single elimination debates on the final day of competition. They then defeated Missouri State in the Sweet Sixteen, defeated Georgia in the quarters before finally falling to Kansas in the semi-finals.
“The third-place finish at Harvard is a major accomplishment,” said Partlow-Lefevre. “This team will rightfully command respect throughout the rest of the season.”
The team recently attended a tournament at Wake Forest University to compete against 150 other teams from across the nation. Nichelle Klosterboer and Aaron Dekeyzer won 75 percent of the preliminary debates beating the top individual teams from both Michigan State and Dartmouth College. Dekeyzer and Klosterboer were seeded 19th losing in double octa-finals. The team of Jessica Yeats and Paul Montreuil also won 75 percent of their preliminary debates beating the top team from Harvard in the process. Yeats and Montreuil were seeded 15th in double octa-finals and lost. Yeats was honored as the second-place individual speaker at the tournament where nearly 300 of the gifted college students were competing.
The team is taking a break as the students gear up for final exams and concentrate exclusively on their studies over the next few weeks. The next competition begins on Dec. 29 at the University of Southern California.
“The debaters are performing admirably in the face of their desire to remain a nationally competitive team following last year’s outstanding accomplishments,” Partlow-Lefevre said.