Mercer Debaters Finish Top Two in State for Third Consecutive Year


VALDOSTA – For the third consecutive year, Mercer University's debate team has the top two speakers in the Georgia Parliamentary Debate Association (GPDA).

Junior Kyle Bligen was awarded first-place speaker at this past weekend's GPDA state competition in Valdosta, while fellow junior Jaz Buckley finished second. Mercer is the first institution to hold the top two individual speaker awards at the state level for three straight years.

Additionally, sophomore Keanu Lowo finished fourth, freshman Taylor Cole was eighth and junior Daniel Alvarez was 10th.

The team of Bligen and Buckley advanced to the finals, while Alvarez and Lowo reached the semifinals and sophomore Cassie Malcolm and Cole reached the quarterfinals.

This year's debaters made history both in the number of teams that reached the elimination rounds and in the number of individual awards won.

“Mercer debaters consistently win because they work incredibly hard,” said Dr. Vasile Stănescu, assistant professor of communication studies and director of debate. “The entire team is grateful to the faculty who supported and encouraged these students. We could not do it without you. A win for the debate team is a win for Mercer University as whole.”

Also at the state competition, Dr. Stănescu was elected the new president of the GPDA.

Mercer's debate team will travel to William Jewell College in Kansas City, Missouri, this weekend for the 2017 National Round Robin, where it will compete against many of the top teams in the country.