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D&E student wins top speaker honors

Submitted photo Displaying their awards from the University of Tennessee’s Volunteer Classic are members of the Davis & Elkins College Debate Society, from left, Thaddaus Breckenridge, Isaac Cleavenger, Amanda Cummins, Elizabeth Brown, Rebekah Brown and Alexandria Washington.

ELKINS — Davis & Elkins College Debate Society President Thaddaus Breckenridge of Beckley took first-place speaker honors in both the team and individual debate divisions at the University of Tennessee’s Volunteer Classic on the Knoxville campus.

The tournament featured competition from 45 students from nine college — including several top 10 nationally ranked IPDA debaters — over the course of three days. Out of a field of 15 debate teams, including the second ranked team in the nation from Middle Tennessee State University, Breckenridge earned top speaker honors.

In individual debate, Breckenridge advanced as the tournament’s second seed with a 4-2 record to the quarterfinal round. He won the quarterfinal round against the University of Tennessee’s top debater on a 2-1 decision. In semifinals, Breckenridge drew the proposition “calling witnesses does more harm than good,” losing on a 3-0 decision to the eventual tournament champion from MTSU. Finishing third in the varsity division, Breckenridge’s quality of wins in preliminary rounds also earned him the top speaker award for the individual tournament.

D&E’s Rebekah Brown of Roanoke, Virginia, moved up from novice to the JV division for the first time and finished with a 3-3 preliminary round record and advanced to the quarterfinal round as the tournament’s seventh seed where she lost to Mississippi State University’s top junior varsity debater. Brown also earned fifth place speaking honors for the quality of her performance in the first six individual rounds.

In the novice division, Amanda Cummins of Elkins earned a 2-4 record, two of those rounds coming with high point losses and finished as fourth overall speaker in novice. Isaac Cleavenger of Philippi, at his first tournament since early last October, went 3-2 heading into round six, losing a close decision to the University of Tennessee’s top novice debater. Alexandria Washington of Roanoke, Virginia, competing in debate for the first time went 3-1 over the last four.

Overall, the squad finished third in debate sweepstakes, placing behind MTSU and Mississippi State University.

D&E senior Elizabeth Brown of Roanoke, Virginia, and Breckenridge’s mother, Rashida Dickerson, also attended the tournament, helping students with debate preparation and judging competition rounds.

Ten D&E Debate Society members will next travel to the West Virginia Intercollegiate Forensics Association tournament hosted by Fairmont State University, Feb. 29-March 1, to compete in IPDA and Lincoln-Douglas debate.