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Debaters claim championship sword at West Point

Liberty University debaters Vida Chiri and Meagan Edwards with the coveted USMA tournament sword.
Liberty University Varsity Debate Team members Vida Chiri and Meagan Edwards won the championship sword at the prestigious United States Military Academy tournament.

Liberty University Varsity Debate Team members Vida Chiri and Meagan Edwards won three of their last four debates before storming through the elimination rounds to claim the championship sword at the United States Military Academy tournament, one of America’s most prestigious debate tournaments, on Oct. 20 in West Point, N.Y.

This is the third time since 1999 Liberty has won the varsity division of the USMA tournament, joining Boston College as the only team to do so in that time period.

Chiri and Edwards are the first duo of African-American women to win the sword.

They lost their first two preliminary rounds at the tournament but went on to win three of four debates to qualify for elimination rounds. They then defeated top-seeded City University of New York and fifth-seeded Vanderbilt University before upending the University of Vermont for the championship.

In the junior varsity division, sophomores Ana Calizo and Kaitlyn Schiess went undefeated through six preliminary and four elimination rounds, defeating teams from George Mason University, the University of Miami, Vanderbilt, New York University, and Rutgers University.

All six of Liberty’s novice teams finished the preliminary round with a record of 3-3 or better.

Several Liberty Flames earned individual speaker awards, including Mary Bobbitt (second), Chirie (fourth), and Caleb Bridwell (10th) in the varsity division; and Calizo (ninth) and Schiess (10th) at the junior varsity level.

Liberty Debate will continue its fall season with a varsity tournament at Wake Forest University Nov. 15-18 and a novice/JV tournament at Monmouth University Nov. 22-24.

The team has a history of excellence, winning the sweepstakes championships for the American Debate Association (ADA), the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA), and the National Debate Tournament (NDT) five times in a row and seven times overall. Liberty remains the only institution to sweep all three rankings in a single season.