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Latest Victory Gives Debaters Top National Ranking

Joey Donaghy and Adam Testerman also won a spot in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence.

Written by John Davis

The victory at Western Washington University was the duo's fourth tournament championship of the year.

The victory at Western Washington University was the duo’s fourth tournament championship of the year.

Texas Tech debaters Joey Donaghy and Adam Testerman entered the final round of the prestigious Mile High at Sea Level Swing needing a win to claim the top spot in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence’s national rankings.

The pair did just that during the debate held Jan. 14-16 at Western Washington University, defeating Washburn University’s top team to claim their fourth tournament championship of the year and the No. 1 ranking.

By doing so, Donaghy and Testerman guaranteed their invitation to the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, a March national tournament open only to the top sixty-four teams in the nation.

“Adam and Joey have been a dominant team this entire year, and it is nice to see that reflected in the NPTE rankings,” said Joe Gantt, director of forensics and head coach of the Tech team. “The win in Washington was the icing on the cake. With such a competitive and diverse set of opponents, Adam and Joey proved that they are one of the favorites to win a national championship in March.”

The Mile High at Sea Level Swing is actually two tournaments held on one weekend. Among the schools competing at the tournaments included the University of Oregon, University of Washington, University of Colorado-Boulder and Indiana University. Thirty-nine of the top 50 teams in the nation were among the 80 teams competing.

Debaters endured near-blizzard conditions that began on the last day of the tournament, dumping almost 10 inches of snow on the campus and nearly preventing the Texas Tech team from making its flight back to Lubbock.

At the first tournament, Donaghy, a sophomore political science major from Coppell, and Testerman, a senior communication studies major from Springfield, Mo., advanced to the semifinal debate before being defeated on a close decision by a team from the University of Texas at Tyler, the top ranked team at the time. 

At the second tournament, however, the Texas Tech duo won 11 debates without a loss. The pivotal debate was in the quarterfinal debate against the same UT-Tyler team that knocked Donaghy and Testerman out of the first tournament. Debating the proper U.S. response to the Mexican drug war, Donaghy and Testerman won the debate and went on to win the tournament.

The three other Texas Tech teams in attendance in Washington also performed well, with each advancing to the elimination rounds of the tournament. The season-long performance of Laci Kennedy, a junior political science major from Bozeman, Mont., and J.T. Seymore, a junior communication studies major from Holliday, earned them 17th place in the nation. They also received an invitation to the NPTE.

Two other Texas Tech teams narrowly missed the first set of invitations, which were given out to the top 24 teams in the nation, but almost certainly will receive their bids in the second set of invitations in February: the team of Tyler Cashiola, a junior communication studies major from Deer Park, and Kevin Thompson, a freshman political science major from Rising Star, are ranked 26th, while the team of Sean Riegert, a senior political science major from Clear Lake, and Lauran Schaefer, a senior communication studies major from Sonora, are ranked 43rd.

The Texas Tech team next competes at the Western Forensics Association championships to be held Feb. 17-19 in Albuquerque, N.M. Rankings can be found at


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Communication Studies

The Department of Communication Studies has a distinguished history as one of the original academic departments at Texas Tech. Communication Studies prepares students for the meaningful and ethical public, professional and personal practice of communication research and theory. The department offers both B.A. and M.A. degrees in Communication Studies.

The department is home to the 2010 National Championship Debate Team and the Mu Phi Chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the national honor society in Communication.

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Joe Gantt

Joe Gantt is an instructor, director of forensics, and coach of the debate team in the Department of Communications Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences.

View his profile in our online Experts Guide.