D&E Debate Society wins championship
ELKINS — The Davis & Elkins Debate Society won first place in debate sweepstakes, an award based upon the team’s overall performance, at the West Virginia Intercollegiate Forensics Association (WVIFA) tournament held Feb. 29-March 1 at Fairmont State University’s campus. The team took the honor competing against six colleges from West Virginia and other states.
Matthew Chapman of Berkeley Springs, competing in his inaugural debate tournament, won first place in Lincoln-Douglas debate, a prepared debate format that focused on the policy of increasing U.S. renewable energy investment. Chapman went 3-1 through preliminary rounds, earing third place Lincoln-Douglas speaker honors in the effort, and won the final round debate on a 3-0 decision versus Marshall University. Chapman’s finish also qualified him for the NFA-LD National Tournament that would have occurred in mid-April.
The society’s co-president Thaddaus Breckenridge of Beckley, fresh off double first-place speaker finishes at the University of Tennessee, came in as the tournament’s second speaker in IPDA debate, and finished second in the IPDA division.
Joining the squad for her first debate competition, Natalia Hidalgo Martinez of Alguazas, Spain, earned a 2-2 record and advanced to the semifinal round of competition, losing on a close decision to the eventual tournament champion. Martinez also earned fourth speaker honors in IPDA debate.
Other members of the team performed well, helping the squad win the sweepstakes award. Isaac Cleavenger of Philippi took top novice Lincoln-Douglas honors with a 2-2 record. Cleavenger, the squad’s only entrant in individual events, took fifth place in Broadcast Speaking.
In IPDA debate, Rebekah Brown and Alex Washington, both of Roanoke, Virginia, finished with an even 2-2 record, but did not advance to the elimination rounds. Washington earned honors as the tournament’s top novice IPDA debate speaker. Brown finished as fifth speaker overall at the tournament.
David Magda of Chillicothe, Ohio, last year’s PKD Lincoln-Douglas National quarterfinalist, experienced some early difficulties, going 1-2 in preliminary rounds, and failed to qualify for the partial debate-in to finals. He, however, worked closely with Chapman to help prepare him before and during the tournament.
The WVIFA tournament, which serves as the state championship contest, also invites other schools to attend. This year Ohio University (Athens, Ohio), Butler University (Indianapolis, Indiana) and the University of Pikeville (Pikeville, Kentucky) competed at the tournament, alongside programs from West Virginia.
Based upon the debate performance and Cleavenger’s effort in individual events, the squad also won overall debate sweepstakes for the entire tournament and earned third place overall sweepstakes honors, which includes performances in both debate and individual events, finishing only behind Marshall University and Ohio University.
Assisting the D&E Debate Society squad were alumni Andrew Carroll ’16 and Emily Coffman ’18, both former society members, as well as Rashida Dickerson, mother of Thaddaus Breckenridge, and D&E student Elizabeth Brown, who has assisted the team the entire year.