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MSU Debate Storms into Sweet 16 of National Championship

By Carly Watson

Michigan State University Debate made a run to the Sweet 16 of the 77th National Debate Tournament (NDT) last weekend.

Piper Meloche, a social relations and policy senior in the Honors College, and Nate Glancy, an economics senior, bested teams from the University of Southern California, Boston College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and the University of Oklahoma in preliminary debates to clinch their place as the 18th overall seed in a field of 78.

“Once we finished the preliminary debates we thought that we were positioned to make a run,” said Will Repko, MSU Debate Head Coach. “Nate and Piper were debating great and we felt well-prepared for elimination debates.”

The tournament seeds teams with five or more preliminary debates into a single elimination bracket based on their preliminary round results. A panel of five judges decide the winner of elimination round debates.

As the 18th seed, Meloche and Glancy debated the 15th seed from the University of Wyoming in the double octafinals (Round of 32).

“Wyoming is a strong opponent – they’ve been innovating strategies all year – so we knew we’d need to bring something special in order to win,” said Kevin McCaffrey, MSU Debate Assistant Coach.

MSU Debate advanced to the Sweet 16 after four of the five judges voted for Meloche and Glancy. The win set up a debate with the 2nd seeded team from Wake Forest University.

While Meloche and Glancy were ultimately defeated by Wake Forest University in the Sweet 16, this is MSU Debate’s best result at the NDT since 2017.

“We’ve heard so much about the basketball team’s run to the Sweet 16 this year so it’s pretty cool that the Debate Team was able to match their results,” said teammate Arielle Gearring, a political theory and constitutional democracy freshman.

In addition to Meloche and Glancy, MSU Debate had two additional teams competing at the NDT.

Tony Miklovis, a social relations and policy and international relations sophomore in the Honors College, Joanna Gusis, a political theory and constitutional democracy freshman in the Honors College, Ephraim Bennett, a computer science sophomore, and David Koster, a political science and pre-law economic junior in the Honors College, also represented MSU.

“In order to even make the tournament you have to qualify through a regional process to determine the top 78 teams out of hundreds so ending the season with three teams competing and one in the top 16 is a huge achievement for the team,” said Repko.

While student on the team compete in pairs, the whole team of students and coached worked to prepare for tournaments. Intercollegiate debate is research-driven and debates are on the same topic for the entire year.

“We compete in a field with academic powerhouses like Harvard and Dartmouth so the whole team worked incredibly hard to make this success possible,” said Repko.

MSU has won the National Debate Tournament three times and has one of the longest qualifying streaks at 27 consecutive years.

The MSU Debate Team is part of the Honors College.

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