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Local students take national debate honors

Two local debate team members of the University of Arkansas at Monticello became national champions last week.

UAM debaters swept the Scholastic, Founders and Overall Sweepstakes Awards at the 2015-16 International Public Debate Association National Tournament March 31 through April 3 at Lee College of Baytown, Texas.

Cody Bijou, a junior communications and political science double major from Crosby, Texas, bested 381 competitors to capture the national championship as the top debater in the varsity division in season-long competition. Cody is a Crosby ISD graduate.

Reagan Dobbs, a junior political science major from Dayton, Texas, was the national champion speaker in varsity debate at the national tournament in a field of 109 competitors.

The IPDA national championship is UAM’s second, and the first since the 2007-08 academic year. UAM debaters posted a winning percentage of 71 percent with 79 percent advancing past the preliminary rounds.

The competition included eight preliminary rounds in four divisions — novice, junior varsity, varsity and professional, as well as four preliminary rounds in team competition. Awards were presented based on both national tournament performances and season-long competition.

In addition to winning all three national tournament sweepstakes competitions, UAM debaters won five individual national championships.

Gabrielle Swain of Monticello, a senior communications major, was the season-long novice debate national champion in a field of 493 competitors. In the professional division,

Chris Brown, an assistant debate coach and debate instructor, captured a pair of national championships as the top season-long speaker and debater. UAM also won season-long team national championships in novice debate and varsity debate.