MACON – Mercer University sophomores Jaz Buckley and Kyle Bligen finished among the top 16 teams at the Mile High Swing, the nation's largest varsity-level parliamentary debate tournament, held Jan. 8-10 at the University of Utah.
The team finish – along with Buckley being named the 10th-place individual among more than 180 competitors – represented Mercer's strongest showing ever at the tournament. The field was made up of teams from Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Texas, Illinois, Missouri and several other states, and included some of the nation's most renowned debate programs such as Rice University and the University of Calfornia, Berkeley.
“A victory at this tournament represents a true national victory,” said Dr. Vasile Stanescu, director of debate. “This is not only the best showing that Mercer has ever had at this tournament; this is the best showing that any institution in the entire South has ever achieved.”
The team is currently preparing for the Point Loma Round Robin, Feb. 12, at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. This is one of the most prestigious debate tournaments in the country, as only the top 16 teams in the U.S. are invited. Mercer was the first team from the South to earn an invite.
Mercer's debaters will go on to defend their state championship at the Georgia Parliamentary Debate Association tournament, Feb. 26-27, at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville.
Nationals will follow in March, as Buckley seeks to defend her National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) top speaker award and the team hopes to build off of impressive performances at both the NPDA and National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE) tournaments in 2015.