UNLV Debate Team Starts 2017 Season With Unprecedented Success

UNLV Debate Team 2017

Sep. 19, 2017

The UNLV Debate Team advanced to the elite eight of the first tournament in the 2017-18 season.

The UNLV Debate Team racked up wins and advanced to the elite eight of the first tournament in the 2017-18 season. Two teams represented UNLV against a field of 115 competitors from prestigious universities across the U.S. The season-opener tournament occurred at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia from Sept. 16 to 18, 2017.

Matthew Gomez, a senior political science major, and Jeffrey Horn, a junior economics major, finished the preliminary debates with a 6-2 record, defeating teams from Cal Berkeley (three times), The University of Kansas, The University of Georgia, George Mason University, Northwestern University, and Emory University. The University of Kansas team that they defeated went on to win the entire tournament in the final round. Following the preliminary debates, Horn was ranked as the 21st individual speaker and Gomez was ranked 32nd out of a field of 230 different debaters.

Horn and Gomez qualified for the elimination rounds of the tournament as the 10th seed. In the elimination rounds, they defeated Cal Berkeley in the round of thirty-two and Emory University in the Sweet Sixteen round. Gomez and Horn lost a very close debate in the Elite Eight round against the team from Northwestern University that they defeated earlier in the tournament’s preliminary rounds. In the team’s 10-year history, this was the best regular season national tournament performance. It establishes Horn and Gomez as one of the top individual debate teams in the nation.

“This tournament was a game-changer for our debate program,” said Jacob Thompson, the director of UNLV’s Debate Team. “We are top tier contenders. This team accomplishment was led by all of our students and coaching staff.”

Achieving success at the season-opener tournament is “incredibly challenging,” Thompson said. “There are so many unknowns heading into it.”

UNLV was also represented at the tournament by Roman Kezios, a senior political science major, and Reece Aguilar, a junior English major. Aguilar and Kezios finished the preliminary debates with a 5-3 record, defeating teams from Harvard, Michigan State University, Wake Forest University, Wayne State University, and Cal Berkeley. Aguilar and Kezios qualified for the elimination rounds of the tournament as the 24th seed. In the elimination rounds they lost in the round of thirty-two to a team from the University of Georgia that ultimately advanced all the way to the tournament’s Elite Eight.

“We have been working practically non-stop since the beginning of August to prepare for this tournament and for the upcoming season, and it’s fantastic to see that hard work beginning to pay off,” Thompson said.

The team plans to celebrate their victory and then get right back to work preparing for its next tournament. The team competes next at the West Coast Regional Season Opener, hosted at San Francisco State University from Sept. 22 to 24.

Thompson has set the expectation bar high for members of the team.

“Our goal this year is to be in the deep elimination rounds of every major national tournament, and to win every regional tournament that we attend,” Thompson said.

Ultimately, the team is working to build momentum for success at the National Debate Tournament (NDT), which is the end of the season college policy debate national championship tournament.

“Our ultimate goal is to advance to the deep elimination rounds of the NDT and to bring home a national championship to UNLV,” Thompson said.

About the UNLV Debate Team

"The award-winning UNLV Debate Team, established in 2007, has quickly grown into a national powerhouse, consistently ranked among the top debate teams in the nation. The team specializes in rapid-fire competitive policy debate, competing in debate tournaments held at universities across the U.S. UNLV debaters consistently win both the regional and national levels. Undergraduate students from any major can participate on 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 debate team is committed to creating an informed citizenry through public argument and civic discourse, working to improve access to policy debate programs for students from diverse backgrounds. The team mentors middle and high school students every year at a summer debate camp, advising hundreds of young debaters in the process. 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 https://www.unlv.edu/debate, follow the team on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/unlvdebate/ or email jacob.thompson@unlv.edu.