Debate Duo Takes Ninth Place in National Championship

All Teams from UT Dallas Finish in Top 20 in Wichita Tournament

March 27, 2008

Two debate teams from UT Dallas finished in the top 20 at last weekend’s National Championship Tournament of the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) held in Wichita, Kan.

The duo of Brian Rubaie and Sara Stephens reached the Sweet Sixteen and finished tied for ninth place. They earned nine wins over 12 rounds during four days of intense competition at the tournament, which was hosted by Wichita State University.

A total of 185 teams from 73 colleges competed at the event, making it the largest intercollegiate debate tournament in the country.  A team from Towson University in Maryland won.  Second place went to a team from the University of Kansas.

At the tournament, held March 21-24, Stephens was named a First Team All-American Debater.  A political science senior from Pensacola, Fla., she is a member of Collegium V, the honors and enrichment program at the University.  She plans to attend law school next year.  Rubaie, a sophomore from Shawnee Mission, Kan., majoring in criminology, was named a First Team Academic All-American Debater.

UT Dallas’ freshman debaters also earned awards.  The team of Andrew Baker, a political science major from Lenexa, Kan., and Daniel Abbas, a political science major from Chicago, tied for 17th, earning eight wins and three losses.  No other double freshman team reached the top 20.  Baker also received an individual award when he earned 227 of 240 possible points and was named the 28th overall speaker.  He was the second highest ranking freshman at the competition.
           
“This is an exciting achievement,” said Chris Burk, director of debate at the University.  “CEDA nationals is a huge tournament, and every team in the country can attend, so for Brian and Sara to take ninth place is a major accomplishment.”

Matthew Carswell, a political science freshman from Crosby, Texas, and Jilliam Cluff, an undeclared freshman from La Veta, Colo., also competed. They finished with four wins and four losses.

“Beyond the rigorous practice sessions of any given week, all the teams trained during their summer and winter breaks and spring break,” said Scott Herndon, associate director of UT Dallas debate.  “Winning at the national level takes a lot of work.  It’s very satisfying to have all of that effort actually garner the results we knew were possible.”

The debate team is led by Burk, who joined UT Dallas in September 2001. Herndon joined in 2002.  Justin Kirk, Todd Jordan and Trevor Andreas serve as assistant coaches.

The team departs Thursday for their last tournament of the season — the 62nd annual National Debate Tournament, which is hosted this year by California State University, Fullerton.


Media Contacts:  Jenni Huffenberger, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, jennib@utdallas.edu
Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Brian Rubaie and Sara Stephens tied for ninth place.

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