UNLV Debate Team Defends the House, Wins Home Tournament

UNLV Debaters Matthew Gomez and Jeffrey Horn

(L-R) UNLV Debaters Matthew Gomez and Jeffrey Horn won the Las Vegas Classic Debate Tournament held on the UNLV campus Oct. 21-23, 2017.

Oct. 25, 2017


Debaters Matthew Gomez and Jeffrey Horn crowned tournament champions at the Las Vegas Classic Collegiate Debate Tournament

In Las Vegas, we all know that “the house always wins,” and the saying remained true this past weekend as UNLV’s award-winning debate team defended home turf, being crowned tournament champions. The UNLV Debate Team of Matthew Gomez and Jeffrey Horn won the Las Vegas Classic Debate Tournament held on the UNLV campus October 21 to 23, 2017. 

Gomez and Horn finished the preliminary debates with a perfect 7-0 record, defeating teams from Gonzaga, Arizona State University, the University of Wyoming, the University of Iowa, and the University of Texas. They qualified for the elimination rounds of the tournament as the top seeded team, out of 52 different competitors. In the elimination rounds, they defeated the University of Wyoming and then a string of three different teams from the University of California, Berkeley in the Elite Eight, the Final Four, and then the championship round.

UNLV was Gomez and Horn’s third tournament and first tournament win of the year. At their first two tournaments earlier this year they advanced to the Elite Eight against fields of more than 100 teams.

According to UNLV Debate Team’s Director Jacob Thompson, Gomez and Horn now have a cumulative win-loss record of 27-6.

“This makes Gomez and Horn the debate team with the single most cumulative wins in the U.S.,” Thompson said.

Gomez and Horn’s 27 wins edge out the top-ranked team in America from the University of Kansas, which has a 25-1 record. Gomez and Horn are the only team to have beaten University of Kansas’s top individual team this year.

At the Las Vegas Classic Collegiate Debate Tournament, teams debated whether the U.S. should establish national health insurance.

Thompson said the team’s win was a result of Gomez and Horn preparing for more than 40 hours a week since August 1. Gomez and Horn studied, researched, practiced giving speeches, wrote arguments anticipating opposing team’s answers. They relied on the critiques of their fellow UNLV debaters who motivated them each day, Thompson said.

“A lot of work goes in behind the scenes to help an individual team succeed. Everyone carries their weight – from each team member to the assistant coaches,” Thompson said. “This accomplishment means a lot to all of the past and present debaters. This year is our debate team’s 10th ‘birthday,’ since its inception in 2007, and I am grateful to all of our supporters.”

UNLV fielded three total teams in the varsity division, two teams in the junior varsity division, and one team in the novice division. In the varsity division, Roman Kezios and Reece Aguilar amassed six preliminary round wins and advanced to the Sweet 16 as the fifth seed. Brian Warren and Ember Smith advanced to the elimination rounds after winning four of their preliminary debates.

In the JV 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, and they both advanced to the elimination rounds. Bradley and Quintana advanced to the Elite Eight and Jones and LeClaire-Vazquez advanced to the Final Four. LeCLaire-Vazquez was recognized as the top individual speaker in the JV division.

Undergraduates from any academic program may join the UNLV Debate Team. This year’s team and their academic programs are listed below.

  • Jeffrey Horn is a junior majoring in economics.
  • Matthew Gomez is a senior majoring in political science.
  • Roman Kezios is a senior majoring in political science.
  • Reece Aguilar is a junior majoring in English.
  • Ember Smith is a sophomore majoring in economics.
  • Brian Warren is a junior majoring in criminal justice.
  • Amber Jones is a senior majoring in communication studies.
  • Stephanie LeClaire-Vazquez is a freshman exploring academic majors.
  • Joe Bradley is a junior majoring in computer engineering.
  • Ryan Quintana is a freshman majoring in finance.


The award-winning UNLV Debate Team was established in 2007. It has quickly grown into a national powerhouse, consistently ranked among the best debate teams in the nation. The team competes in debate tournaments held at universities around the 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 team also 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.