Texas Tech University

Debate Team Opens with Two Strong Performances

The Texas Tech Debate Team, a part of the Communication Studies program in the College of Media & Communication, opened the 2016-17 season by winning multiple awards at the Georgia Bowman Classic in Kansas City, Missouri, and at the Rocky Mountain Classic in Pueblo, Colorado.

The Georgia Bowman Classic was held at William Jewell College in mid-September. Director of forensics Adam Testerman received special recognition as the 2016 Coach of the Year. He said the award recognizes coaches who have achieved competitive success and whose work is recognized as contributing to the growth and development of parliamentary debate.

In addition to individual awards, Testerman said the students also won awards as teams. The team of William Harper, a freshman public relations major from Talco, and Carlton Crowe, a freshman political science major from Gainesville, won the novice championship.

Harper hopes their win is a sign of the success and achievement to come for the debate team this season.

"The atmosphere of a collegiate forensics tournament is one of intense competition, but also one of community and friendship, since everyone is there for an event they love," Harper said. "This sense of community was heightened within William Jewell since there were multiple break sessions focused on creating a uniquely inclusive environment. It was within this space that the Texas Tech debate team achieved its first material measure of success this season."

Logan Kelley, a sophomore communication studies major from Abernathy, and Cody Gustafson, a freshman English major from Lubbock, advanced to the open quarterfinal round, finishing among the top eight teams at the tournament. Testerman noted Kelley and Gustafson were one ballot away from the semifinals and pushed the top seed of the tournament to the brink of elimination.

"We currently have one of the youngest teams in the nation," Testerman said. "We sent eight debaters to this tournament; one junior, two sophomores and five first-year debaters. All five of our first-year debaters finished in the top 10 in first-year individual speaking awards, including the individual champion, Cody Gustafson."

Gustafson said it was an honor to be named top speaker at the tournament.

"It was a nice kickoff to my collegiate career and was especially nice to be named a top speaker at a collegiate level since I was never quite able to snag that at a national-circuit tournament in high school," Gustafson said.

Kelley said the tournament was an exciting start to the season for the entire team, and finishing in the top eight with Gustafson made him look forward to future tournaments.

"The season opener is always a really long one because it's the first tournament of the year and it is three days long," Kelley said. "The team, however, has been working really hard, and it makes me so happy to get to work with everyone."

The Rocky Mountain Classic was held at Colorado State University in late September.

"Texas Tech finished with three of the top 10 individual speaking awards and cleared four of our six teams to elimination rounds," Testerman said. "We are proud of our top 14 finishes in the open division of the tournament."

Testerman said Texas Tech gave another strong performance, where Arion Rios, a junior political science major from Big Spring, and Fiker Tesfaye, a sophomore sociology major from Corinth, advanced to the semifinal round of the tournament. The teams of Gustafson and Kelley, and Crowe and Harper, also were finalists.

Testerman noted this tournament was a first for Ana Ortiz, a sophomore political science/accounting major from Dallas, and Brad Parrish, a junior political science major from Caddo Mills, and they cleared to elimination rounds in the junior division of the tournament.

"Two tournaments down to begin the season and we like where we are sitting," Testerman said. "We've cleared multiple teams at each tournament and put together strong outround performances."

Next up for the debate team is the Lewis & Clark tournament in Portland, Oregon, this weekend.

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