Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2010-01-21

Samford University debaters are ranked third in their seven-state region by the Cross Examination Debate Association and fifth in the National Debate Association’s nine-state district following a series of January tournaments.

At a University of Texas at Dallas tournament Jan. 9-11, teammates Dan Bagwell and Logan Gramzinski won five of seven preliminary rounds to advance to quarter-final competition. Their record included wins over teams from Weber State University, Baylor University and Dartmouth College. Gramzinski, a junior from Covington, Ga., was named third best overall speaker out of 242 individual competitors.

At the same tournament, the Samford team of Jayme Cloninger and Jacob Lewis beat teams from University of North Texas and Trinity University to claim four wins in preliminary rounds.

Earlier in the month, Gramzinski and Bagwell had prevailed after a 13-hour van ride to merit the Sweet 16 round at a University of North Texas tournament, held Jan. 4-7. Gramzinski was named 13th overall speaker. Bagwell, a sophomore from Damascus, Ga., was named 21st overall speaker out of 202 debaters at the tournament in Denton, Texas.

The January road trip ended with a small, but tough tournament at the University of West Georgia Jan. 15-18.

“There were only 57 teams at this tournament,” said coach Abi Williams, “but every team was nationally competitive.”


Bagwell and Gramzinski advanced to the top 16 before losing a 2-1 decision to the reigning Cross Examination Debate Association champions from Towson University. Gramzinski was named 13th best overall speaker. Bagwell was ranked 27th.

The Cloninger-Lewis team beat teams from such debate powerhouses as Emory University and Harvard University to win three preliminary rounds at the West Georgia tournament.

Samford freshman debaters Kaitlin Defoor and Robert Elliott won preliminary rounds at each of the three January tournaments, scoring victories over such schools as Rochester  University, Southern Methodist University, Binghamton University and the  University of Georgia.

“This year’s debate squad has consistently gotten better and is solidifying Samford’s place amongst the nation’s most competitive debate teams,” said Williams.

The squad will take a break from competition before returning to the Lone Star state Feb. 6-8 for a tournament at the University of Texas at Austin.

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. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 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 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.