Debate Stars Shine Bright at Showdowns in Colorado

Red Raiders win their first sweepstakes award at Air Force Academy tournaments.

Texas Tech defeated schools such as the University of Utah, University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Houston on its way to taking the top prize.

Texas Tech defeated schools such as the University of Utah, University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Houston on its way to taking the top prize.

Two weeks after winning the top overall school award at its season opening tournaments, the Texas Tech debate team duplicated that feat in two tournaments held Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

By winning the swing sweepstakes award granted to the best overall team at both tournaments, it marked the first time Texas Tech had won a first place sweepstakes award at the Air Force tournaments, which university debaters have attended more than 30 times in the past 50 years.

Texas Tech bested schools such as the University of Utah, University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Houston to take the top prize.

“Once again, this team exceeds my expectations,” said Joe Gantt, director of forensics and debate coach. “Our senior debaters won 45 debates this weekend and lost only five. That is just incredible consistency on their part. Our freshman teams also stepped up to varsity competition and each came home with success. This is the best start to a season we’ve ever had, and I expect that we will be ranked extremely high as a school and as individual teams when rankings get published in the next week.”

University of Utah Tournament

Much of Texas Tech’s success came at the first tournament, hosted by the University of Utah on the USAFA campus. Texas Tech had three of the four semifinalist teams at the tournament after strong preliminary debates and wins in early elimination rounds.

The team of Tyler Cashiola, a junior communication studies major from Deer Park, and Kevin Thompson, a freshman political science major from Rising Star, was assigned to debate against a team from Carroll College in Montana in the semifinal debate, with a rare three-way Texas Tech tie for first place in the balance.

Cashiola and Thompson rose to the occasion, and shared first place with the team of Joey Donaghy, a sophomore communication studies major from Coppell,  and partner Lauran Schaefer, senior communication studies major from Sonora, as well as the team of Laci Kennedy a junior political science major from Bozeman, Mont., and partner JT Seymore, a junior communication studies major from Holliday.

The three-way tie for first place was Texas Tech’s first “closeout” of a tournament since 2006. Donaghy, Schaefer, Seymore and Kennedy were all named among the top ten individual speakers at the tournament.

Another notable performance of the team was turned in by Jett Elliott, a freshman chemistry major from Clear Lake, and partner Zach Wesley, a freshman communication studies major from Crandall, as they advanced to elimination rounds at their first-ever varsity division debate tournament. 

The USAFA Classic

At the second tournament, Texas Tech could not quite duplicate its extremely rare performance at the first tournament, but still had successful results.

Cashiola and Thompson again reached the final debate round, falling to a team from the University of Montana and finished in second place out of 32 teams. Donaghy and Schaefer finished 3rd, and Kennedy and Seymore finished in fifth place.

Cashiola, Donaghy, Kennedy and Schaefer were again honored among the top ten individual speakers.

Another Texas Tech freshman team advanced to varsity elimination rounds in the second tournament as well, as the team of Drew Hoffmaster, a freshman chemical engineering major from Alief, and Dylan Nikoletopoulos a freshman pre-journalism major from Bozeman, Mont., won four preliminary debates and were among the top teams at the tournament in their first weekend of collegiate debate. Finally, Wesley punctuated the Texas Tech performance by advancing to the final round in extemporaneous speaking.

The team will travel next to the Lewis & Clark College tournament, to be held Oct. 7-9 in Portland, Ore.

Communication Studies


A degree in Communication Studies has never been more valuable and marketable than in the global, networked world of the 21st century. Through a dynamic and diverse curriculum that spans interpersonal, intercultural, and organizational communication as well as rhetoric and public affairs, students develop communication skills aimed at enhancing their personal, professional, and public lives.


Texas Tech Law Students Finish Second at National Competition

Meat Judging Team Wins First Fall Contest

Livestock Judging Team Wins at National Barrow Show