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Wildcats Take Second in National Debate Tournament

Still debate’s “winningest” team, Northwestern Debate Society has bright future

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April 10, 2013 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- While other Northwestern University students spent spring break on the beach, performing service projects or watching NCAA basketball, Northwestern Debate Society members fought through the elimination brackets of a different kind of March Madness. They took second place at the 2013 National Debate Tournament (NDT).

The tournament was held this year in Ogden, Utah, in the shadow of the Wasatch Range of the upper Rockies.

The Northwestern team entered the tournament having already scaled a few peaks. They began as the “winningest” team in the country, with 14 NDT first place wins. They represented the longest continuous debate program in the country. And they were coached by Daniel J. Fitzmier, the current R.K. Smith Debate Coach of the Year.

In the end, the team of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences’ undergrads Peyton Lee and Arjun Vellayappan rose through tough competition to take second place overall. Lee took the second speaker placing in the tournament, while Vellayappan took seventh.

The team of Evan McCarty and Linda Pei made it to the double octa finals before being eliminated. The team of Alex Miles and Rahim Shakoor also participated, narrowly missing elimination rounds.

While second place was not the team’s goal for the year, Fitzmier -- Northwestern’s other Coach Fitz -- said the outlook for the team remains bright as ever.

“We’ve had the immense privilege of representing the University in four consecutive National Debate Tournament finals,” said Fitzmier. “And we've done it this year with one of our youngest teams ever.”