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Debate Team Comes in Second

Formidable duo takes Northwestern to national debate tournament finals

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April 2, 2010 | by Wendy Leopold
Exhausted Northwestern debaters Matthew Fisher and Stephanie Spies (both Weinberg 2011) with Northwestern Debate Society coach Dan Fitzmier after learning the Northwestern team came in second in the National Debate Tournament (NDT) held in Berkeley, Cal. last week.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern students Stephanie Spies and Matt Fisher debated their way to the final round of the National Debate Tournament (NDT) that took place last month at the University of California, Berkeley. The extraordinary team lost to Michigan State in the final debate.

The two Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences juniors were undefeated and named the top seeded team after eight preliminary NDT debates. They also were the second best overall team during the regular season in the race for the tournament's Copeland Award.

Spies and Fisher are the 15th Northwestern Debate Society team to reach the finals of the National Debate Tournament since 1958, the sixth Northwestern team to place second overall in the regular season and the sixth Northwestern team to receive the top seed at the National Debate Tournament.

Though their debate performance was formidable, they lost in the finals to the team from Michigan State, which was named the third best overall team during the regular debating season.

"If one figures the results of the National Debate Tournament in with the results from the regular season, it would be tough to argue than any team had a better overall year than Matt and Stephanie," said Northwestern debate coach Dan Fitzmier.

The team won four important national level tournaments, finishing second in two and second at both of the major national level round robins. "With a final record of 98 wins and 14 losses, the team's performance stacks up with the accomplishments of any of the great teams from Northwestern's past," Fitzmier added.

Spies finished the 2009-10 season with a 22 round affirmative elimination debate-winning streak -- a streak unprecedented in the last decade. Fisher, who last year won the Copeland Award as a sophomore, has won an astonishing 186 debates in just two seasons.

Northwestern remains the "winningest" debate society in NDT history with an unprecedented 13 championships.

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