Bulldog debate team earns speaker nods in Arizona tournament

Fresno State sign. (Jorge Rodriguez/The Collegian)

Members of the Fresno State debate team, the Barking Bulldogs, earned both individual and team recognition at the Sun Devil Invitational Debate Tournament hosted by Arizona State University from Sept. 13 to 15 in Tempe, Arizona.

The Bulldogs made up five competing teams in the tournament with two in the novice division, two in junior varsity and one in the varsity division. 

In junior varsity, teammates Jose Carlos Aceves and Sarah Saelee advanced to the semifinals of the tournament with four wins and two losses in the preliminary rounds but lost the final round, earning a third-place tournament finish.

Aceves, however, earned a first-place speaker recognition for his efforts.

“In my first semester, I got first speaker as a novice. But now that I’m JV, this is my first big type of recognition,” Aceves said. “I’m really proud of our team. We got to that point because of our coach and our assistant coach, Primavera [Leal Martinez].”

Aceves added that the team would have more work to do to get to where they want to be.

The other junior varsity team of Scott Chapman and Lesly Salvador-Leon was able to make it through both the preliminary and semifinal rounds but was eliminated in the final round and finished in second place overall.

In doing so, Salvador-Leon earned a 10th-place speaker ranking.

The first novice team, a hybrid team consisting of Fresno State student Payton Polanco and Southwestern College’s Isabella Avalos, earned three wins and two losses in the preliminary round, good enough to advance to the division finals.

The team was eliminated in the finals but earned a second-place overall finish. Polanco, who was competing in her first tournament, was ranked as the seventh-place speaker in the competition, despite having never debated before.

It was also the first tournament for Demitira Wack and Joanna Lopez Sanchez, who made up the second novice team. The team was not able to advance beyond the preliminary rounds, but both debaters were individually recognized with Wack being ranked as the fourth-place speaker and Lopez Sanchez earning an eighth-place speaker nod.

In the varsity division, Fresno State’s Aaron Lowe formed a hybrid team with Jaysyn Green from CSU Long Beach. The team finished with an even three wins and three losses.

“I am very proud of the hard work that each and every student put in to prepare for this tournament,” said Tom Boroujeni, Fresno State director of debate. “Great job and congratulations on your achievements.”

The team will travel to San Diego State University for its next tournament, the Aztec Invitational, from Oct. 4 to 6.

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