Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2010-10-19

Samford University varsity debaters Dan Bagwell and Logan Gramzinski have set a school record with their high ranking in the recent National Coaches’ Poll, and contributed to a similar accolade for the overall debate program. 

Bagwell and Gramzinski are ranked the 17th best team in the nation, and Samford the 13th best overall debate school in the October poll. 

The poll is conducted among coaches at each of the National Debate Tournament and Cross Examination Debate Association member schools, which number about 120. Because some large schools field as many as 20 teams, the number of teams considered for ranking is in the hundreds. 

This is the first time in the two-year history of the poll that Samford has had a team ranked as high as Bagwell and Gramzinski, according to debate coach Abi Williams.

“Dan and Logan are an incredibly successful team and Samford is doing extraordinarily well as a team,” said Williams. 

Their ranking comes after strong showings at several tournaments this year.  At an early October Northwestern University invitational tournament, which fielded 144 of the best teams in the nation, the Samford duo went into elimination rounds as the 12th seed after beating top 25-ranked teams from Northwestern, Gonzaga and Idaho. They lost in the Sweet 16 round to a top five-ranked University of Oklahoma team. Gramzinski was ranked 14th best speaker out of 288 total debaters. 

At a late September tournament at Georgia State University, Bagwell and Gramzinski finished preliminary rounds as the 22nd seed out of 170 competing teams. They were defeated in an elimination round by a top 25 team from the University of Georgia. 

Another clue to the Samford debate program’s overall success, Williams said, is the impressive showing by a pair of young teams at a Vanderbilt University Debate Tournament held Oct. 15-17. 

Jenae Steel and Amanda Gargus won the novice championship, and Gargus, in her inaugural collegiate debate tournament, was named first place novice speaker. Steel was named second place novice speaker. 

Junior varsity teammates Matt Sessions and Garrett Vande Kamp won the JV division championship in dramatic fashion. In a come-from-behind showing, the pair defeated a former JV championship team from University of South Florida in the final round.  The two freshmen had begun the tournament as the bottom seed, but after squeaking into elimination rounds, handily defeated top ranked teams en route to the final round and title. 

Samford was among 54 teams at the Vanderbilt tournament. 

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 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.