Chirayu Salgarkar

MACON – Mercer University’s debate team competed in two tournaments representing two different formats of debate this past weekend, earning honors in both the Georgia Parliamentary Debate Association (GPDA) State Championship and the National Round Robin.

The GPDA championship – an International Public Debate Association (IPDA) event that featured debate among individual speakers – was hosted virtually by the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Mercer was represented by sophomores and first-year debaters Chirayu Salgarkar and Dominic Ekezie. In his first-ever debate tournament, Ekezie was named second-place novice speaker.

Dominic Ekezie

“Chirayu, who was a quarterfinalist at an IPDA tournament hosted by Mt. San Antonio College last fall, worked closely with Dominic as a peer mentor to prepare him for the state championship. Dominic placing second at his first tournament thanks in part to this peer coaching is very exciting and speaks to the growing foundational skills of our novice debaters who will be transitioning fully into varsity debate next fall,” said coach Lindsey Hancock Warden.

The National Round Robin – a National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) event that featured debate among teams of two – was hosted virtually by William Jewell College.

Mercer was represented by senior team captain Cameron Wade and freshman Niyati Patel.

Cam Wade

The ultracompetitive tournament invites programs to send a maximum of two of their best teams. Each team must debate five preliminary rounds for panels of two expert judges to advance from the preliminary round. The six teams who advance go on to debate in the round robin portion of the tournament, where they debate each of the five other teams in front of panels of three expert judges.

The tournament entails a total of 10 rounds and nearly 24 hours spent debating against the nation’s best competition and is widely recognized as “the toughest, most demanding tournament of the year,” said Warden.

Wade and Patel, a first-year debater who was competing in only her fourth tournament ever, became the first Mercer team to advance through the preliminary round of the tournament. They finished the round robin in fourth place with a winning record of 8-7 over the two days of competition.

Niyati Patel

“This fourth-place win at the National Round Robin is something very special,” said Warden. “Cam needed a debate partner to enter this tournament, and Niyati gladly agreed to partner with him to compete against some of the best teams in the country despite being in her first year of debate. That they finished in fourth place despite facing teams with more combined experience is a testament to Cam’s superb abilities as a peer mentor, Niyati’s fearlessness and the indomitable spirit that has come to define what it means to be a Mercer debater.”

Mercer’s novice debaters will next compete in the National Online Forensics Championship on March 17, and the entire team will participate in the NPDA Championship at the end of the month.