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Debate team excels in national tourney

April 6, 2001

The Spartan basketball team isn’t the only program at MSU showing consistency in Final Four appearances.

Last week, two members from MSU’s debate team reached the semifinals in two National Championship debate tournaments for the second consecutive year.

However, the pair - international relations junior Austin Carson and social relations sophomore Calum Matheson - was unable to make the finals in either tournament, losing to eventual National Champions the State University of West Georgia and the University of Iowa.

Carson said he and Matheson both had mixed feelings about the tournament’s results.

“We were a little disappointed we didn’t get to the National Championships,” he said. “But, to get to the Final Four was a real honor.

“We were the only nonsenior team to reach the Final Four, so it was pretty awesome to reach that far while we are still this young.”

But the 2000 and 2001 teams were opposites in terms of competitive experience, said Jason Trice, director of debate.

“It’s a pretty phenomenal level of success,” Trice said.

The 2000 debate squad featured a lineup full of seniors and became the first team to reach the final round of both the Cross Examination Debate Tournament and the National Debate Tournament.

Still, the 2001 team nearly achieved the same success with Carson, Matheson and a collection of freshmen.

“The fact we reached that point is really impressive and speaks strongly of what’s to come,” said Trice, who compared the team’s achievement to that of the MSU men’s basketball program.

In five years at MSU, Trice and head coach William Repko have collectively led the debate team to three final-round appearances and to the semifinals seven times.

Greta Stahl said as a freshman, partaking in the national tournaments was a valuable and educational experience.

Stahl, and no-preference freshman David Strauss, were the first MSU freshman team to reach the final 16 at the cross examination tournament and to place in the top 25 at the National Debate Tournament.

“It was really awesome just to compete in the tournaments,” said Stahl, a no-preference freshman. “And it is really fantastic to see that kind of your success for the team.”

Because of the team’s youth and increased familiarity with the national tournaments this season, Trice said he expects more success next year.

“It’s much like sports, as you progress you get better,” he said. “You kind of just grow with the experience.”

Carson also said the team will have high expectations next year, possibly a No. 1 ranking.

“It’s probably going to be MSU’s best year, or at least that’s the expectation,” he said.

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