UNLV Debate Team Continues Amazing Run of Tournament Success

The UNLV Debate Team

Oct. 5, 2017

Tournament champions in Utah and Elite eight in Kentucky; The UNLV Debate Team excels at two tournaments on the same weekend! 

The UNLV Debate Team won both the Novice and Junior Varsity divisions of the Weber State University Debate Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight at the University of Kentucky Debate Tournament.

Matthew Gomez and Jeffrey Horn finished the preliminary debates at the University of Kentucky with a 6-2 record, defeating teams from Dartmouth College, the University of Kentucky, Cal-Berkeley, Northwestern, Indiana University, and Michigan State University. In the fourth preliminary round, they defeated the same Northwestern team that knocked them out of the Georgia State University tournament in the Elite Eight.

Horn and Gomez qualified for the elimination rounds of the tournament as the ninth seed, out of 102 different competitors. In the elimination rounds, they defeated Dartmouth College in the round of thirty-two and the University of Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen. Gomez and Horn lost a very close debate on a 2-1 decision in the Elite Eight round against the University of Kansas. That team eventually went on to win the tournament. This was Kansas’ second tournament win in a row and they have a cumulative record of 25-1. Gomez and Horn are the only team in America that has dealt them a defeat to date.

This was Gomez and Horn’s second tournament of the year, and it was the second tournament in a row where they advanced to the Elite Eight. This singles them out as one of the top eight individual debate teams in America. When asked about their performance, Gomez said, “We’re not taking this for granted. We’re really hungry to keep winning.” According to Gomez, he and his partner have “outperformed expectations early in the season,” which means they plan to set their goals even higher for the rest of the year.

The UNLV Debate Team “split the squad” as five other UNLV teams attended the Weber State University Debate Tournament on the same weekend that Gomez and Horn were competing at the University of Kentucky. UNLV fielded two teams in the Varsity division, two teams in the Junior Varsity division, and one team in the Novice division at Weber State.

In the Novice Division, Madison Frazee and Kristian Thymianos, both frosh majoring in Political Science, finished the preliminary debates with a 6-0 record. They advanced to the final round as the top seed and defeated the home team from Weber State University, to be crowned tournament champions. Thymianos was recognized as the third best individual speaker in the Novice division.

In the Junior Varsity division, UNLV was represented by Joseph Bradley and Ryan Quintana and by Amber Jones and Stephanie LeClaire-Vazquez. Jones and LeClaire-Vazquez finished the preliminary debates with a 6-0 record and Bradley and Quintana finished with a 4-2 record. They advanced to the Final Four debates as the first and second seeds. Bradley and Quintana defeated Arizona State University in the Final Four and Jones and LeClaire-Vazquez defeated the University of Wisconsin. The two UNLV teams closed out the championship round and were honored with first and second place overall in JV. LeCLaire-Vazquez, Jones, Bradley, and Quintana all were honored for their individual speaking, and were recognized as the first, second, third, and sixth best individual speakers (respectively) in the Junior Varsity division.

In the Varsity division, UNLV was represented by Reece Aguilar and Roman Kezios and by Allie Ryerson and Brian Warren Jr. Aguilar and Kezios finished the preliminary debates with a 5-3 record and advanced to the first elimination round as the eleventh seed out of 53 different competitors. Aguilar and Kezios were recognized as the tenth and seventh best individual speakers in the Varsity division of the tournament.

When asked about the team’s performance, UNLV’s Director of Debate, Dr. Jake Thompson said, “These successes are a direct result of the hard work and commitment of our students and coaching staff. We win as a team and we lose as a team.” The team’s victories were, according to Thompson, “another important step on the road to a national championship.” The team next competes on home turf at the UNLV “Las Vegas Classic” Debate Tournament hosted on the UNLV campus October 21-23, 2017.

About the UNLV Debate Team

"The award-winning UNLV Debate Team was established in 2007. It has quickly grown into a national powerhouse, consistently ranked among the top debate teams in the nation. The team competes in debate tournaments held at universities around America, and they consistently win both regional and national caliber debate tournaments. The team specializes in rapid-fire competitive NDT/CEDA policy debate. Undergraduate students from any major can join the team and hone their skills in public speaking, critical thinking, research, and cross-examination. Debate team alumni work in higher education, law, politics, and the public and private sectors. The UNLV Debate Team is committed to creating an informed citizenry through public argument and civic discourse and seeks to improve access to policy debate programs for students across all socio-economic and diverse backgrounds. The team mentors local middle and high school students every year at a summer debate camp. Throughout the school year, the also team advises and coaches hundreds of local middle and high school debaters. The debate team is housed in the UNLV Communication Studies Department in the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs.

For more information on the UNLV Debate Team, visit the Debate website, follow the team on Facebook or email jacob.thompson@unlv.edu.