UNLV Debate Team Defends the House

Oct. 24, 2018

Media Contact: Jacob Thompson, director of UNLV Debate, Jacob.Thompson@unlv.edu

The UNLV Debate Team wins Las Vegas Classic Debate Tournament becoming back-to-back tournament champions.

The UNLV Debate Team successfully defended the house, winning both the Varsity and Junior Varsity (JV) divisions of the 2018 Las Vegas Classic Debate Tournament.

This was the second year in a row UNLV has won the Varsity division of the Las Vegas Classic. It was also the second year in a row that the team defeated two different teams from UC Berkeley in the last two elimination debates. UNLV is now back-to-back champions of the Las Vegas Classic. Ranked fifth in the nation in fall 2017, the UNLV Debate Team won last year’s Las Vegas Classic Debate Tournament.

“The team’s success was a testament to teamwork, hard work, love of the game, and commitment to competitive excellence,” said Jacob Thompson, Director and Coach of the UNLV Debate Team. “We’re incredibly proud to represent UNLV and Las Vegas.”

The tournament included 160 competitors from 25 different universities representing 13 different states. The preliminary rounds of the tournament were hosted on the UNLV campus Oct. 20-21 and the elimination rounds were hosted on October 22 at the Rio Hotel and Convention Center.

UNLV was represented by eight total teams at their home tournament, five in the Varsity division, one in the JV division, and two in the Novice division. In the JV division, first-year student Travis Smith and sophomore Kristian Thymianos finished the preliminary debates with a 5-1 record, but had a perfect 9-0 ballot count in the elimination rounds. Smith and Thymianos defeated the University of Texas, San Antonio in the Elite Eight, Cal State Fullerton in the Final Four, and Arizona State University in the Championship round. This was Smith and Thymianos’ first tournament win as a team.

In the Varsity division, senior Jeffrey Horn and junior Ember Smith finished the preliminary debate with a 5-2 record. They advanced to the elimination debates as the 4th overall seed. In the Sweet Sixteen, they defeated the University of Wyoming, in the Elite Eight they defeated Arizona State University, and then they defeated two different teams from UC Berkeley in the Final Four and in the Championship round.

Horn and Smith were recognized as the sixth best two-person debate team in America by the most recent National Debate Tournament Coaches Poll, conducted October 20, 2018.

“Jeff and Ember are incredible people and incredible debaters,” Thompson said. “They are incredibly competitive and hardworking, but they are also really nice people who care for their teammates and for our program.”

Horn and Smith are both “homegrown talent and hometown heroes,” Thompson said, as both students are locals who Thompson recruited from Green Valley High School.

The 2018 Las Vegas Classic was “an amazing success for the entire team,” according to Thompson.

  • In addition to winning the Varsity and JV divisions, the team of sophomore Simon Lamsal and sophomore Josh Padilla finished the preliminary rounds with a 4-2 record and advanced to the Elite Eight in the Novice division. Even more impressive, this was Lamsal and Padilla’s first-ever policy debate tournament.
  • The Varsity teams of freshman Madeline Reese and sophomore Allie Ryerson and senior Reece Aguilar and senior Brian Warren both advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the Varsity Division.
  • The teams of sophomore Ryan Quintana and sophomore Trent Swett and senior Joe Bradley and senior Haley Lauze-Reyes both finished 3-4 in Varsity.
  • The team of junionr Bridget Beckett and sophomore Kevin Wong finished 3-3 at their first-ever tournament in Novice.

The UNLV Debate Team is financially supported by the university and community donors. With financial support, the team can provide scholarships to students, cover the cost of student travel to competitions, run summer debate camps for middle and high school students, and maintain overall debate operations funding to ensure that the program can continue its tradition of competitive excellence. To donate or for more information, please visit the UNLV Debate Team website: https://www.unlv.edu/debate.