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Vikings finish year with celebration, anticipation

Augustana debaters had their end-of-the-year event May 19, which provided a unique opportunity for reflection and renewal as the school year closes and the offseason begins. Director of debate Max Archer was pleased with the commitment he saw from this year's squad and particularly excited about the return of four students to next year's team. After completing his first year as Director, Archer used the time between the final tournament and the end of the school year to take account of the accomplishments reached this year and to set the goals for next year's campaign.

This year, Augustana travelled eleven different students to ten debate tournaments across the country. Students competed in tournaments in Iowa, Nevada, Kansas, New York, Texas, Maryland and Idaho. Weekend after weekend, the team grew in terms of dedication and experience, as each student, no matter what level of prior experience, received recognition for their contributions to the program. This level of participation culminated in Augustana making a 25% jump in the national rankings, a leap that included receiving twice as many points in the sweepstakes race.

The Vikings had a tremendous amount of competitive success this year, achievements that they hope to build upon in the years to come. Augustana received its first top speaker award in more than five years, when senior Carrie Clark received the top speaker award in the novice division at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas tournament. Clark and her colleague finished as finalists at the same tournament. After four years of failing to place at the prestigious National Junior Division Debate Tournament, junior Samantha Hoffman and first-year Erich Deicke emerged as the top seed of the tournament after the preliminary debates and went on to finish as semifinalists. Sophomore Kofi Sam and first-year Jamila Washington closed out the season by receiving a perfect score of 30 speaker points each in the final debate of the topic at the Cross Examination Debate Association's national championship.

The Vikings acquired unique knowledge and training over this year's resolution:

Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should substantially reduce its agricultural support, at least eliminating nearly all of the domestic subsidies, for biofuels, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, corn, cotton, dairy, fisheries, rice, soybeans, sugar and/or wheat.

The Vikings now prepare for a long summer as they anticipate debates over next year's topic, Nuclear Weapons. While the actual resolution will not be released until the middle of July, returning members of the squad will join incoming first-year students in "virtual" squad meetings held via Facebook and email. Each meeting will include discussions about practice, technique and research and will provide an early opportunity to meet and work with fellow members of the squad. The returning students will attend workshops held in Arizona where they will receive training on the topic and skills instruction from the top debaters and coaches from across the nation. Kofi Sam will be serving as a resident assistant at the University of Michigan's summer debate workshops, one of the top high school institutions in the country, where he will also be able to access one of the nation's best library systems. Each student has agreed to take on a research assignment that will help the team prepare for next year's topic.

Students interested in joining the debate team should contact Max Archer, director of debate at 309-794-7717 or maxarcher@augustana.edu. Meetings are held on Tuesdays at 10:30AM in the Augustana Debate Union, Old Main 19.