Published on March 1, 2011  

Samford University debaters Dan Bagwell and Logan Gramzinski went undefeated at a district qualifying tournament last weekend to finish in first place and qualify for the National Debate Tournament (NDT) as the #1 seed from the southeast.

The District 6 NDT qualifying tournament, held at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 25-27, featured the region’s best 54 teams. Each team debated six rounds as they vied to become one of only six district teams to receive bids to the national tournament, which will be held March 25-29 at the University of Texas-Dallas.

“To have a perfect record at any tournament is amazing and rare, but to have a perfect record against the very best teams in the nation really takes your breath away,” said the Samford team’s proud coach Abi Williams.

According to Williams, District 6, which includes schools in eight southeastern states, is “much like in football, concentrated with the best debate teams in the nation.” 

In route to their six wins, the Samford duo defeated four teams from perennial powerhouse Wake Forest University and two from equally strong Emory University, which was named the district’s number one squad for the 2010-11 season. Wake Forest, last year’s NDT semi-finalists, claimed the national championship two years ago.

At the end of the qualifying tournament, Gramzinski was named varsity debater of the year for the 2010-11 season, an honor voted on by all schools in the district to recognize a stand-out debater for individual talent and success throughout the year. A fifth-year senior from Covington, Ga., Gramzinski also was named fourth best individual participant in the qualifying tournament.

Bagwell claimed 8th place speaker honors at the tournament. A junior from Blakely, Ga., Bagwell was the only non-senior to be ranked in the top 10.

Gramzinski and Bagwell, who have been consistently ranked in the top 25 in the National  Coaches’ Poll this year,  are not new to national competition. The two Georgians have qualified for the NDT each year they have been a part of Samford debate, said Williams.

Finishing behind the Samford pair at the district event were an Emory team in second place and a Wake Forest team in third place. Those teams, along with fourth, fifth and sixth place finishers Emory (Team II), Georgia State University and Vanderbilt University, respectively, will compete in Dallas.

This year’s national debate topic that has been argued at tournaments since September is “Resolved that the U.S. federal government should substantially increase the number of and/or substantially expand beneficiary eligibility for its visas for one or more of the following: employment-based immigrant visas, nonimmigrant temporary worker visas, family-based visas and human trafficking-based visas.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.