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Liberty News

Debate team members (left to right): Kate Lacaze, Catherine Hardee, Melanie Darling, Beau Troxclair

September 30, 2008 : University Advancement staff

Fresh off their victory at Georgia State University, the Liberty Debate team travelled to Clarion University last week where they extended an impressive early-season streak, winning both the varsity and novice divisions. The Flames finished the preliminary rounds with the top seed in varsity, junior varsity and novice — advancing 13 of their 15 teams to the elimination rounds.

The Flames were led by varsity debaters Stephanie Dillard and Ross Garrett who claimed the tournament title after finishing the preliminary rounds with a 5-1 record and earning top seed honors. They were joined in the elimination rounds by teammates Michelle Oh and Joshua Turnage (5-1, semi-finals), Eddie Fitzgerald and Jeff White (5-1, quarterfinals) and Amy Boyd and Ben Hagwood (3-3, quarterfinals).

The Flames recorded wins over teams from Kentucky, Pittsburgh, The Naval Academy, James Madison, Drexel and Mary Washington. Liberty also dominated the awards given to the top individual speakers, claiming six of the top 10 awards. Ross Garrett led the way earning recognition as the tournament’s top Varsity speaker. He was followed by Joshua Turnage (3rd), Stephanie Dillard (4th), Eddie Fitzgerald (5th), Jeff White (6th) and Michelle Oh (9th).

The novice teams of Melanie Darling and Beau Troxclair and Catherine Hardee and Kate Lacaze closed out the novice division by winning each of their semifinal debates and creating an all-Liberty final round. Also reaching the elimination rounds were the teams of Joshua Armstrong and Joseph Autry (4-2, quarterfinals), Chelsea Thompson and Tierra Thompson (4-2, octofinals), Hannah Krieg and Jake Shelton (4-2, octofinals) and Maria Eller and Jessica Maddox (3-3, octofinals).

The Flames swept the top six speaker awards, including Austin Woodruff (Top Junior Varsity Speaker), Lincoln Garrett (2nd), Amanda Atkins (3rd), Jackie Poapst (4th), Ryan Bass (5th) and Katie Jordan (6th).

The Liberty debaters will take this weekend off before competing at the University of Richmond Debate Tournament, Oct. 11-13. For more information about the Liberty Debate Team, visit

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