MACON – Mercer University debater Cam Wade was named top speaker at the 16th annual Mile High Swing, traditionally the nation’s largest parliamentary debate competition outside of nationals, hosted virtually Jan. 8-9 by the University of Texas at Tyler.

Cam Wade
Cam Wade

Wade, a senior double-majoring in women’s and gender studies and English, competed in the tournament as a “maverick,” debating without a partner and delivering an unmatched 24 speeches over the two days of the tournament, which included debaters representing 11 institutions from seven different states.

Competing alone against teams of two opposing debaters, Wade cleared the five preliminary rounds with a perfect 5-0 record, advanced to the finals and was named the tournament’s top individual speaker.

“That Cam was able to win top speaker and advance to the final round while debating as a maverick speaks not only to his exceptional breadth of knowledge and debating abilities, but also to his character,” said coach Lindsey Hancock Warden. “I am proud of Cam for modeling leadership and tenacity to our younger team members, as well as for the many ways he invests in them through his support and encouragement. We are all very proud to celebrate Cam’s well-earned achievement.”

Wade won the James ‘Al’ Johnson Top Speaker Award at nationals as a junior and the Dan Henning Top Novice Speaker Award as a sophomore.

He was joined in the Mile High Swing by a novice team of first-year debaters, freshman Niyati Patel and sophomore Chirayu Salgarkar, who competed for the first time together. Patel and Salgarkar debuted in the fall’s October Surprise Tournament hosted by Mt. San Antonio College, where Salgarkar advanced to the quarterfinal round and was named Bronze Winner.

The two debaters plan to represent Mercer in the novice division of the National Parliamentary Debate Association’s championship in March.

The team was coached this past weekend by Warden, an alumna in the Class of 2015 and former Mercer debater, who serves as assistant director of debate. Dr. Vasile Stanescu, associate professor of communication studies, is the University’s director of debate.

Mercer will next compete in a virtual tournament hosted Feb. 19-20 by McKendree University.