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Augie debate on the rise

Augustana junior Kofi Sam received All-America honors at the Cross-Examination Debate Association National Championships.

Junior Kofi Sam garners All-America honor

With a Sweet 16 finish at the junior varsity national tournament and an All-America honor for its leader, the Augustana Debate Union will carry a lot of momentum into the 2010-11 school year.

And the group won't be resting on its laurels.

"We're planning a much more competitive schedule," Vikings debate director Max Archer says. "We're going to go to more national-caliber tournaments. The debaters will be competing in more experienced divisions."

Junior Kofi Sam was named one of 30 All-Americans at this year's Cross-Examination Debate Association National Championships. The award recognizes students for their competitive and academic success, as well as leadership and contribution to the debate community. It was the first time since 2006 an Augie debater has received the award.

"It's still almost surreal. It's a great accomplishment for me," says Sam, a Chicago native who in 2007 was named one of the top 10 high school debaters in the Windy City. "An award like this gets my name out there a little bit on the national level, and that can only help us when we go to more national tournaments next year."

"It's a big accomplishment," adds Archer, a former CEDA All-American himself. "It's recognition for a lot of the sacrifices Kofi made for the team this year. Even though he was the senior member of the team, he was willing to step back and help out the newer members."

The Viking Debate Union upped its membership to 10 in Archer's second season as director, and he expects that number to hold strong in the coming year. The team closed the 2009-10 season with a fine performance at the CEDA championships. Competing against four teams that advanced to the elimination round, first-year students Benedict Fisher and Andrew Heidtke recorded four wins and four losses. And first-years Nathan Treichel and Abiel Diaz performed well in the open division.

In all, Augustana competed in more than 130 debates at 12 tournaments during the 2009-10 school year, advancing to elimination rounds at three of those and bringing back speaking honors from two. The team's travels took students all across the country, competing against opponents from schools like Harvard, Northwestern, USC and Minnesota, among others.

Archer says the future is bright for the program, which has a history dating to the founding days of the college.

"The more successful the team is, the more notoriety it brings to the college," he says. "As a result, the team has an easier time selling the value of doing college debate at Augustana."