MACON – Mercer University’s debate team opened the 2021-22 season Sept. 25-26 in the Rice University Classic, held virtually.

The Bears were represented by the team of Cameron Wade and Madeline Smith, who reached the quarterfinal round.

Wade, from Savannah, is a senior double-majoring in women’s and gender studies and English, while Smith, from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, is a junior double majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology (BMB) and Spanish.

Additionally, Wade, who won the James ‘Al’ Johnson Top Speaker Award at nationals in March, was named the seventh-place individual speaker among 50 debaters from across nine states competing in this past weekend’s tournament.

“The Rice University Classic is an elite national tournament,” said Dr. Vasile Stanescu, director of debate and associate professor of communication studies. “Mercer was in the top eight against other national universities such as the University of Oregon, U.C. Berkeley and Penn State University. Both debaters worked very hard preparing for this tournament, and I am very proud of each of them.”

Dr. Stanescu was supported by Lindsay Warden, who recently joined the team as an assistant coach. Warden is a former Mercer debater who won the University’s first state championship as a senior in 2015 and also finished 10th at nationals that same year.