Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2008-10-21

Samford University debaters dominated a Vanderbilt University Debate Tournament over the weekend, Oct. 17-19, returning with top team and individual honors.

The Samford varsity team of Logan Gramzinski and Dan Bagwell defeated the University of Georgia in the final round to claim first place. The debaters defeated teams from James Madison, Emory, Kentucky and the University of Georgia en route to the finals.

Gramzinski, a sophomore from Covington, Ga., was named the top individual speaker of the 48 individual competitors at the tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

"Winning a tournament is a rare honor that few achieve," said Samford debate director Ryan Galloway. "Winning a tournament and being named the top speaker is almost unheard of in most students' debate careers."

Bagwell, a freshman from Damascus, Ga., was named sixth best speaker, an amazing accomplishment for a first-year college debater, noted Dr. Galloway.

In junior varsity competition, Samford teammates Jayme Cloninger of Denver, N.C., and Jacob Lewis of Monticello, Fla., debated their way to the finals before falling to the University of Houston. They earlier had defeated teams from Miami, Appalachian State, Emory and Kansas City.

Ben Johnson, a first-year debater from Monroe, Ga., was named third best speaker in that competition.

Samford's novice team of Connor Penwell of Jupiter, Fla., and Daniel Lentz of Fayetteville, Ga., made their tournament debut with an impressive advance to the octafinals of their division. Their opponents had all previously debated in as many as four tournaments.

This year's national debate topic is whether or not farm subsidies should be substantially decreased.