Samford University debaters Dan Bagwell and Logan Gramzinski sacrificed much of their spring break to prepare for the 2011 National Debate Tournament, but it paid off when they reached the Sweet Sixteen. It marks the highest NDT finish for a Samford team in 25 years.
Bagwell and Gramzinski posted a winning record in the preliminary rounds, defeating teams from such schools as Harvard and Vanderbilt before losing to Baylor University in the Sweet 16 on a split decision.
The run to the top 16 at the NDT, held March 25-29 at the University of Texas-Dallas, had several especially sweet moments for the Samford pair.
They advanced to the round of 32 by defeating a top ranked Vanderbilt University team that they had lost to three times during the year. Then came a win over a top 16-ranked team University of Georgia team…one that had also defeated Samford during the regular season…and advancement to the Sweet 16.
“They were a real Cinderella team against squads five or six times as large as Samford’s,” a proud Samford director of debate Dr. Ryan Galloway said of Bagwell, a junior journalism and mass communication major from Blakely, Ga., and Gramzinski, a senior political science major from Covington, Ga.
“They worked all day every day over spring break to prepare for this tournament,” added debate coach Abi Williams, pointing out that the two were competing against schools with larger coaching staffs and bigger budgets. “Obviously, their hard work paid off big time.”
The Samford duo had qualified for the NDT by going undefeated at a district qualifying event in February to finish first and enter the NDT as the #1 seed from the southeast.
In bringing home the Sweet Sixteen distinctive, Bagwell and Gramzinski follow the lead of former Samford debaters Keith Herron and Guy Boozer, who claimed the honor in 1986. Herron and Boozer were coached by George “Skip” Coulter, who is Galloway’s father-in-law.