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The Hillsdale College debate team won sweep­stakes at Webster Uni­versity in St. Louis during the largest tour­nament they have com­peted in this season. Katrina Torsoe | Courtesy

The Hillsdale College debate team excelled in their first debate tour­nament of the spring semester. Trav­eling to Webster Uni­versity in St. Louis, Hillsdale saw stiff com­pe­tition from 42 other col­le­giate teams at the Gorlok Gala.

The Gala is the largest tour­nament the team has com­peted in this season. The debate team per­formed well, winning debate sweep­stakes with a perfect score. Hillsdale debaters com­peted in all three forms of debate: par­lia­mentary, Lincoln Douglas, and public forum.

“Com­pe­tition is extremely strong,” junior Hannah Johnson said. “It’s also a par­tic­u­larly dif­ficult tour­nament because you’re just coming off Christmas break and haven’t had as much time to practice.”

In par­lia­mentary, five out of the six teams broke out of the regular com­pe­tition to compete in out rounds. Three Lincoln Douglas debaters broke to out rounds as well. Most team members com­peted in mul­tiple events and had back-to-back rounds all day. One round typ­i­cally lasts an hour.

“For those that were in both events, the closest thing you got to a lunch break was coming and grabbing a snack and then running to your next round,” Lam­brecht said. “The first day is pretty intense if you’re in mul­tiple formats. After that, it gets a little bit softer.”

Gorlock was junior Joel Meng’s first tour­nament in a year. He par­tic­i­pated in both public forum and par­lia­mentary debate. Meng and Tom Southwell went 2 – 2 in their public forum rounds. In par­lia­mentary, Meng and partner, junior Lucy Meckler, took second place.

“Lucy is amazing,” Meng said. “We hadn’t debated together for over a year. It’s really a tes­tament to how good of a debater she is.”

On the par­lia­mentary side of things, sophomore Caleb Lam­brecht said he saw some unusual debate tactics. Many teams ran cri­tiques — argu­ments that contest the validity of the debate subject. In one par­lia­mentary round, Lam­brecht and his partner had to prove whether or not Brexit was good for the UK. Their oppo­nents came in and argued that the debate should not even take place as Brexit and the UK are insti­tu­tions founded in whiteness and to debate would be par­tic­i­pated in white supremacy.

“You run into some really wacky argu­ments in the cri­tiques,” Lam­brecht said. “There were a lot of those we ran into this weekend, more than I’ve ever seen at any other tour­nament. That made it pretty chal­lenging.”