Mercer Sweeps Major Awards at Georgia Parliamentary Debate Association State Tournament


MACON – Mercer University’s debate team continued a four-year stretch of dominance at the Georgia Parliamentary Debate Association state tournament with its most impressive showing yet.

The Bears won every major award at this year’s tournament, which they hosted Feb. 24-25 on the University’s Macon campus.

Mercer won the state championship for the third time in four years and was represented by both the first- and second-place varsity speakers for the fourth consecutive year.

In addition to first-place varsity speaker Jaz Buckley and second-place varsity speaker Kyle Bligen, who was also selected as the state’s “Debater of the Year,” freshman Madison Moore was named first-place novice speaker, and senior Austin Paul was second-place novice speaker.

The Bears also took home the sweepstakes award for most points accumulated by rounds won at the tournament, as well as the traveling sweepstakes trophy for most points on a year-to-year basis.

Mercer “closed out” the final round of the tournament, meaning that two of its teams – seniors Buckley and Bligen, as well as seniors Daniel Alvarez and Keanu Lowo – reached the finals. The University was crowned champion with no need to contest the round.

Alvarez finished as the tournament’s fifth-place varsity speaker, and Lowo was named seventh-place varsity speaker.

Additionally, the team of juniors Cassie Malcolm and Garrett Williams reached the semifinal round, placing three of Mercer’s teams among the final four in the state tournament.

“Mercer students won every single major debate award at state, and the final round didn’t even have to happen because it would have been Mercer debating against Mercer,” said Dr. Vasile Stanescu, director of debate. “One of Mercer’s slogans is, ‘Mercer Bears don’t just compete. They dominate.’ Mercer students didn’t just win this year’s state tournament; they dominated.”

The team will complete the season at the 22nd annual National Parliamentary Debate Association National Championship Tournament March 23-26 at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.