The UNLV Debate Team racked up wins and advanced to the elite eight of the season’s first tournament. Two UNLV teams competed against a field of 115 competitors from prestigious national universities during the season-opening tournament Sept. 16-18 at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Matthew Gomez, a senior political science major, and Jeffrey Horn, a junior economics major, finished the preliminary debates with a 6-2 record, defeating teams from Cal Berkeley (three times), Kansas, Georgia, Northwestern, Emory, and George Mason University. The University of Kansas team that they defeated in the preliminary rounds went on to win the tournament.
Horn and Gomez qualified for the elimination rounds as the 10th seed. They topped Cal Berkeley in the round of thirty two and Emory University in the Sweet Sixteen round before losing a very close debate in the Elite Eight round against a team from Northwestern University.
In the UNLV program’s recent 10-year history, this was the best regular season national tournament performance and establishes Horn and Gomez as one of the top individual debate teams in the nation.
“This tournament was a game changer for our debate program,” said Jacob Thompson, the director of UNLV’s Debate Team. “We are top-tier contenders. This team accomplishment was led by all of our students and coaching staff.”
UNLV was also represented at the tournament by Roman Kezios, a senior political science major, and Reece Aguilar, a junior English major. Aguilar and Kezios finished the preliminary debates with a 5-3 record, defeating teams from Harvard, Michigan State, Wake Forest, Wayne State, and Cal Berkeley. Aguilar and Kezios qualified for the elimination rounds of the tournament as the 24th seed.
“We have been working practically non-stop since the beginning of August to prepare for this tournament and for the upcoming season, and it’s fantastic to see that hard work beginning to pay off,” Thompson said.
Thompson has set the expectation bar high for members of the team. Ultimately, he says, the team is working to build momentum for success at the National Debate Tournament (NDT), the national championship tournament for collegiate policy debate.
“Our ultimate goal is to advance to the deep elimination rounds of the NDT and to bring home a national championship to UNLV,” Thompson said.
The team competes next Sept. 22-24 at the West Coast Regional Season Opener at San Francisco State University.
About UNLV’s Debate Team
The award-winning UNLV Debate Team, established in 2007, has quickly grown into a national powerhouse. The team specializes in rapid-fire competitive policy debate, competing in debate tournaments held at universities across the U.S. Undergraduate students from any major can participate on the team and hone their skills in public speaking, critical thinking, research, and cross-examination. The debate team is housed in the UNLV Communication Studies Department in the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs.
Learn more at unlv.edu/debate