Speech and Debate team gets 2018 off to strong start

January 09, 2018 / by / 0 Comment

By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon University’s Speech and Debate team had another stellar outing at the recent Mile High Swing invitational tournament.

GCU’s young but successful Speech and Debate team

GCU’s returning debaters – the teams of sophomore Grace Laidlaw/senior Ashley Hoftiezer and sophomore Matthew Calderwood/senior Taylor Alandzes – made it to the octofinal, or single-elimination, round of the event at the University of Utah.

Both sets finished in the top 16 of 62 teams. Calderwood also was ranked the 20th-best individual in the tournament, a debate-only competition.

Nationally, the Calderwood-Alandzes duo is ranked in the top 20, and the Hoftiezer-Ladlaw pair occupies the 31st spot. 

“The GCU debate teams presented classical debate skills,” College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Dr. Sherman Elliott said. “They were articulate, convincing and persuasive, and clearly the judges recognized that.”

Among the notable teams that GCU defeated were Lewis & Clark, Concordia University Irvine and Rice University.

In its final tournament of 2017, the team finished second and fourth out of 33 entries in the Pacific Southwest Collegiate Forensics Association fall championship at Moorpark (Calif.) College.

The Hoftiezer-Laidlaw and Calderwood-Alandzes pairs were in the top four, and Alandzes was named best individual.

Michael Dvorak

On the speech side, Andrew VonGries won the JV Division of Extemporaneous Speaking and junior Keliann Nash earned third place in the Varsity Division of Persuasive Speaking.

GCU also was ranked the top four-year school in the tournament.

Next up is the speech-only HFO XVII Swing tournament Saturday at the University of Texas followed by a tournament for both speech and debate Jan. 27 at Concordia-Irvine. 

Director Michael Dvorak leads a team that has put GCU on the tournament map and has earned impressive victories since it began in 2013.

Last year, the team ranked 14th out of 179 colleges and universities and surpassed perennial top-20 teams such as Biola; the University of California, Berkeley; and the University of Oregon.

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Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or [email protected]



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