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Debaters remain an impressive force

Lauren Creiman
News Editor

The debate team continued its tradition of success when two of its teams advanced to the elimination rounds at the United States National Open earlier this month.

In the tournament, hosted by Claremont McKenna College from Oct. 7 to Oct. 9, La Verne teams MT and PA were among the eight out of 44 teams that advanced to the elimination rounds.

Team La Verne MT, consisting of senior speech communication and political science major Ryan Mansell and La Verne graduate student Corey Teter, ranked first in eliminations.

“I feel really good about how we did, especially considering it is the beginning of the season,” Mansell said. “A good opener sets the tone for other tournaments, and I think this one was overall good for everyone.”

Although Team MT lost to a team from Loyola Marymount University in the finals, Mansell and Teter are still satisfied with their achievement.

“I was pleased with how my team competed against them and possibly could have won,” Director of Forensics Rob Ruiz said.

“They have proven themselves to win in big tournaments and I look forward to Oxford and the World Championships in December,” Ruiz added.

Mansell said that the feedback the team received from onlookers and judges will be used to help the team improve its skills before it travels abroad for major tournaments.

“There are definitely things we can improve since we made it to the final but didn’t win,” Mansell added. “Simplifying ideas and improving our showmanship probably would have helped us win.”

Team PA, consisting of assistant debate coach John Patrick and La Verne graduate student Thomas Allison, also took seventh place in the elimination rounds.

Although somewhat disappointed that they did not win the tournament, the team is happy with the overall success, Ruiz said.

“It would be really nice if our teams break (into the final rounds) at the tournaments this year,” Mansell said. “Ultimately, it would be even better if one of our teams wins a tournament.”

The University was able to enter 16 speakers and nine judges into the tournament. Of the 25, eight speakers and nine judges had never competed in a debate tournament.

This is one of the highest numbers of novice speakers and judges and boasts well for the future of La Verne debate, Ruiz said.

Among the successful La Verne teams was La Verne Team FN, made of junior speech communication and psychology major Sam French and freshman speech communication and political science major Melanie Nadon.

Nadon, a 2011 La Verne Performance Scholarship recipient, received high marks from many veteran judges as well as John Meany, director of debate at the Claremont Colleges.

“This was my first debate with La Verne, and I was really excited by how we did,” Nadon said. “My high school team was great but never a powerhouse, so it was nice to be a part of a team that dominated the room.”

In addition to great showing at the United States National Open, the La Verne team has also received vocal support in its bid to host the National Debate Championships in 2013.

Supporters of the bid include the Claremont Colleges, St. John’s University, University of Vermont, UCLA, Regis University and Loyola Marymount University.

“The US Nationals at La Verne will be one of the biggest debate championships ever held on the West Coast,” Ruiz said. “I look forward to being the apex of hosts when it comes to such a tournament.”

Both Mansell and Nadon expressed excitement and gratitude for the support from other universities.

“It is great to see other schools supporting us,” Mansell said. “La Verne has been a leader in the community for a long time, and it would be great to see the debate community come home to us if we get to host the national championships in 2013.”

The La Verne debate team plans to continue its successful year at the Morgan Stanley Oxford IV on Nov. 10, followed by the UC Davis Worlds Tournament on Nov. 19 and 20 and the Hugill Cup hosted by the University of Alberta, Canada on Dec. 2.

The culmination of these tournaments will occur in December when two teams and three judges will compete at the World University Debate Championships in Manila, Phillipines.

The team hopes to maintain or improve its continuous ranking within the top 20 British Parliamentary Debate teams in the world.

Lauren Creiman can be reached at

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