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Debate team ends year on high note

Posted on Tuesday, Mar. 27, 2012 — 4:22 PM

At the 2012 American Debate Association National Championship, Xin (Malia) Zhan and Saad Rehman took home the championship in the JV division, with Rehman also winning the Top Speaker Award in that division. (Photo provided by Vanderbilt Debate Team)

The Vanderbilt debate team ended its year with some notable victories. At the 2012 American Debate Association (ADA) National Championship, the team of sophomore Saad Rehman and first-year student Xin (Malia) Zhan took home the championship in the JV Division, with Rehman also taking the Top Speaker Award in that division.

“Going in as the underdogs, it felt incredible,” Saad said. “It was a great way to end the season.”

Held at Clarion University in Pennsylvania March 10-12, 75 teams from 17 colleges competed in the tournament, including Boston College, Emory and Wake Forest. This year’s topic for collegiate policy debate was “Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its democracy assistance for one or more of the following: Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and/or Yemen.”

Additional ADA wins by Vanderbilt this year include:

  • Juniors George Williford and Cody Stothers qualified through the Elite Eight (quarterfinals) in the Varsity Division;
  • First-year student Isabelle Pelaschier, fourth place speaker in the Novice Division;
  • First-year student Selene van der Walt, ninth place speaker in the Novice Division;
  • Junior Cody Stothers, ninth place speaker in the Varsity Division;
  • First-year student Mary Young, 10th place speaker in the Novice Division;
  • First-year student Fletcher Young, 12th place speaker in the Novice Division;
  • First-year student Xin (Malia) Zahn, 13th place speaker in the JV Division;
  • Junior George Williford, 13th place speaker in the Varsity Division.

Vanderbilt’s final national rankings for the ADA were fourth in the Grand Sweepstakes for overall debate squads, second in the JV Division and fourth in Novice.

Vanderbilt also won high honors at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) National Tournament earlier this month at the University of Oklahoma. Debate Coach Mary Lyn Sandoz was awarded the Brownlee Award, which is given annually to one forensic educator in the nation who demonstrates outstanding achievement in scholarship, education and service to CEDA.

George Williford was a recipient of the All American Debater Award, which honors a maximum of 30 debaters who represent the best of intercollegiate debate.

Junior Eric Lyons, Saad Rehman and Cody Stothers were named National Debate Scholarsin recognition of their strong academic records in addition to their competitive accomplishments. All three are summa cum laude, which requires at least a 3.75 GPA.

Vanderbilt ended the year as eighth in the nation in the CEDA sweepstakes awards.

Contact: Mary Lyn Sandoz
ML.Sandoz@Vanderbilt.Edu