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Debators Qualify For Nationals

Heights Staff

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

Four Boston College students have qualified to compete in the National Debate Tournament (NDT), which will take place at Emory University from Mar. 30 to April 2. The students qualified in teams of two: Brendan Benedict, A&S ’12, and Michael Maerowitz, A&S ’14; Sullivan McCormick, A&S ’15, and Alexander Carlman, A&S ’15. This will mark the 66th annual NDT, which features the top 78 debate teams in the United States.

The two BC teams qualified for the NDT by placing in the top seven teams at the District 8 (Northeast) qualifying tournament, which was hosted by Western Connecticut State University from Feb. 24 to 26. The tournament included teams representing Binghamton University, the City University of New York, Cornell University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Vermont, and Western Connecticut.

The tournament is structured so that each team goes through six rounds of debate against a series of opponents. Every round is observed by a two-judge panel, and each judge awards a ballot to the team he or she views to have won the debate. After the six rounds, the seven teams with the most ballots qualify for the NDT.

Benedict and Maerowitz won two ballots from the New School, Vermont, and City University of New York, while splitting with Rochester. Carlman and Sullivan won two ballots from the New School, Rochester, and City University of New York, and split with another team from Rochester. Both teams lost four ballots to the two Harvard teams, who were the top two teams with records of 12-0 and 10-2. Cornell and Dartmouth’s top team tied for third place with 9-3 records.

Both BC teams qualified for the NDT in an exciting finish. After the six rounds of debate, four teams were tied with seven ballots for the last three slots. This essentially sent the tournament into overtime, necessitating a series of runoff debates, each of which would be judged by three-judge panels.

In the first runoff debate, Carlman and Sullivan met the same Rochester team who they split ballots with in round six. This time, however, they managed to beat Rochester on a 2-1 decision, qualifying for the NDT.

Benedict and Maerowitz fell to Dartmouth in the first runoff debate on a 2-1 decision. This left the two losing teams, BC and Rochester, to compete for the last slot. With their backs against the wall, Benedict and Maerowitz prevailed on a 3-0 decision, qualifying them for the NDT.

Qualifying for the NDT is a great honor, as it is the oldest and most prestigious of the debate championships. According to BC debate coach John Katsulas, “Qualifying for the National Debate Tournament is equivalent to a basketball team making the NCCA basketball tournament.”

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