Trinity Debate Program Ends Season Ranked 7th in Nation

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Russell Guerrero '83
May 13, 2011

Trinity Debate Program Ends Season Ranked 7th in Nation

Debaters complete most successful season in program's history

The Trinity University Debate program ended the 2010-2011 tournament season ranked seventh in the nation, the highest ranking the program has ever achieved.  The debate squad also was the highest ranked program in Texas.

Sarah Topp

Sarah Topp

"We really did well and I am proud of the debaters," said Sarah Topp, assistant professor of speech and drama and director of the debate program.

Hired in March 2010, Topp started working with the Trinity's debate squad during the summer and in August she, along with Trinity alumna Jamie Downing '04, took 18 students to a retreat in San Marcos. During the two-day gathering and as part of a debate tradition, Downing presented each new member a handmade scarf which she knitted. Topp also met with each debater individually to talk about their goals for the season.

The debate squad participated in 12 tournaments beginning with a national tournament at Georgia State University in September, where two Trinity teams placed in the top 32, until the last tournament in March when the program sent two teams to the prestigious National Debate Tournament at the University of Texas at Dallas. 

The debate squad had a consistent roster of 14 members who competed in two-person teams. All the students debated at the varsity level.

Highlights of the season include tournaments at these campuses:

  • Harvard University - One team placed in the top 16 and two students, seniors Michael Hart and Brandon Bankey, were recognized as the top 24th and 25th speakers respectively.
  •  University of Oklahoma - The team of first-year Misael Gonzalez and sophomore Steven Murray won the tournament while a second team placed in the top 16 and a third team placed in the top 32. Topp also won an award for coaching.
  •  University of North Texas -  The first half of what is known as the "Texas Two-Step," Bankey and Hart won second place while two other Trinity teams placed in the top eight and the top 16. Bankey also won top speaker at the tournament while Hart placed third and Murray placed eighth.
  •  University of Texas at Dallas - The second half of the "Texas Two-Step." Bankey and Hart won first place and were recognized as the top two debaters at the tournament. Bankey and Hart were also named the Two-Step Champions for having the best preliminary record at the two tournaments combined.
  •   University of Missouri at Kansas City - the team of Hart and Murray won first place while a second Trinity team placed in the top eight. Murray won the top debater award as Hart won second place and Bankey placed fifth.   

 The debate program also participated in the Frosh/Sophomore Nationals and placed one team in the top four and another team in the top eight.

"The year, competitively, was amazing. We have many students, all of whom have enormous natural talent, who want to work hard to develop themselves further as debaters," said Topp.

The debate squad is already looking forward to the next season. Only two members of the squad are graduating in May and Topp is anticipating a few new first-years to join the program during the summer. 

And, for the first time, the debate program will get help from another faculty member. Doowon Chung will be arriving in the fall for a one-year term appointment and will teach two courses and be the assistant coach of the program.