Published on February 10, 2021 by Sean Flynt  
Debate 2020
Samford debaters practice safely and compete in virtual tournaments during the COVID-19 pandemic

Samford debaters delivered strong back-to-back performances in January, and two of them rose into the top 10 in national rankings.

The team of Max Willinger and Taijah Clark reached the final four of the virtual U.S. Naval Academy Tournament, logging wins against Cornell University, Liberty University and the New School of New York City. 

The junior team of Sawyer Emerson and Maddox Gates–already ranked 7th in the nation–had an especially impressive University of Minnesota Tournament, going 5-1 in preliminary competition and reaching the elite eight after defeating teams from the University of Minnesota, the University of Iowa, Gonzaga University, the University of Georgia, Missouri State University and Wichita State University. Emerson and Maddox were narrowly defeated by tournament finalist University of Pittsburgh. Emerson was named eighth speaker at the tournament. The team of Alyssa Gregory and Joey Tarnowski also competed at the tournament, defeating Indiana University and the University of Iowa.

“These two tournaments put us in a strong position for our goal of qualifying for the National Debate Tournament,” director of debate Ryan Galloway said. “The fact that we have three teams competing at such a high level of competition speaks well for the future of the program,” assistant director Lee Quinn added.

Samford’s Debate Team currently is ranked #12 in the nation by the American Debate Association, ahead of traditional debate powerhouses including Harvard University, Northwestern University and Cornell University. It will next compete at the National Debate Tournament district qualifier hosted by Emory University at the end of February.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.