There’s no debate: This team’s on fire
Story and photos by Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
One of Grand Canyon University’s winningest teams is back at it, notching a sensational victory in its first contest as it anticipates its best year yet.
The Speech and Debate Team was so successful that the Aztec Invitational tournament at San Diego State University last weekend ended 90 minutes early because all the semifinalists were from GCU.
“Seniors Zachary Kuykendall and Thomas Rotering as well as juniors Genevieve Mason and Taylor Alandzes all won their quarterfinal rounds, which means we become the first team (in two years) to ‘close out’ multiple rounds of a tournament in IDPA debate,” said Barry Regan, Speech and Debate Team director and College of Humanities and Social Sciences instructor.
“Overall, this is the most dominant performance in our team’s history in debate.”
If the first competition is any indication, the Speech and Debate Team — a rising star on the national circuit after ranking as high as No. 16 in the country last year in parliamentary debate — is going to have a blockbuster year.
Last year the team repeated as Division III champion even though it had a large freshman contingent. This year, it boasts 12 returning team members.
The team has 21 members compared to last year’s 15. Even more telling is that about 80 students applied for nine openings, Regan said.
“This year’s team is the most adaptable we have ever had,” Regan said. “It’s very special because it can debate both sides of any philosophical or current debate issue, and do it admirably.”
GCU students and employees have at least three chances to see their champion team perform at home.
The team is scheduled to hold a mock presidential debate, with members playing the roles of Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump, Libertarian Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein and moderator.
The free event will be held from 11:15-noon Oct. 21 at Ethington Theatre. The “candidates” will answer questions on significant issues and policies without combativeness, Regan said.
Team members will perform an array of speeches during a Speech Showcase that will be held next year. In addition, GCU was also selected to host the 2017 National Christian College Forensics Invitational March 18-20, another achievement reflecting the University’s increasingly impressive stature.
The tournament will bring in as many as 400 people, most of whom will stay in the Grand Canyon University Hotel, Regan said.
Senior Alaina Owen said she expects the team to continue growing as a family.
“I want to leave the team with a strong sense of family, a strong sense of commitment, and first and foremost, centered around the Lord,” Owen said.
TaylorRae Humbert, a sophomore, said she also expects continued growth, no matter how well the team performs — “growth as a team and growth individually.”
The list of the first competition successes goes on:
- Kuykendall, Rotering, Mason and Alandzes finished in the top four overall in IDPA debate and were named Top Four Speakers of the tournament in the event.
- The team of Kuykendall and sophomore Kara Sutton made it to the quarterfinals in parliamentary debate.
- “Even more amazingly,” Regan said, “freshman JT Winkler (who joined the team two weeks ago) earned second place speaker out of 60 in parliamentary debate.”
- Senior Tatum Kaizer took first place in novice Poetry Interpretation and second place in novice Impromptu Speaking.
- Junior Swade Potter finished first in novice Impromptu.
- Sophomore Thomas Gleason took second in open Persuasive Speaking
- Freshman Grace Laidlaw took fifth in open Prose Interpretation.
- Owen took fifth in open Extemporaneous Speaking.
Not all team members competed in the first contest. Other team members are freshmen Ashley Hoftiezer, Danny Williamson, Matthew Calderwood, Megan Truesdall and Vanessa Young; sophomores Brian White, Jasmin Sharp, Amanda Ostrem and Keliann Nash, and junior Genevieve Mason.
The next tournament, the Robert Barbara Invitational at Cal State Northridge, is scheduled for Nov. 4-6.
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.