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Debate team brings home hardware from nationals

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The Peaslee Debate Society completed one of its most successful seasons in recent history with impressive results at the American Parliamentary Debate Association Nationals. The tournament, which was held at the College of New Jersey on April 17-19, saw 85 varsity pairs and 47 novice pairs compete for team and individual titles. Swarthmore’s B team, consisting of Patrick Holland ’17 and Miriam Pierson ’18, made an underdog run to the octofinals, earning 12th place. Pierson’s success earned her the tournament’s top Novice Speaker award, and she clinched the national Novice of the Year award as a result.

Pierson became the first woman to win the prestigious award since a Brandeis woman earned the title in 2005. She is the second Peaslee member to be named Novice of the Year, after Andrew Waks ’13 accomplished it in 2012. In winning the top Novice Speaker position at nationals, Pierson finished ahead of seven male competitors, with the next-highest woman slotting in ninth place. Not only was she named the top novice, but she also was selected as the seventh-best debater in the entire nationals tournament. The six opponents she was placed behind hailed from Yale, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins.

Pierson’s team result with Holland was particularly strong, as well. The pair had to complete six rounds of debates across the first two days of competition in order to qualify for the round of sixteen. At the Franklin & Marshall tournament, Holland and Pierson reached the quarterfinals and finished eighth out of 26 pairs.

While nationals marked Holland’s second top-15 result of the season, it was Pierson’s third, along with four top-five showings in novice team events. She has been named top novice speaker at four tournaments, including nationals, and was rated in the top ten no fewer than 14 times.

Jodie Goodman ’16, who was the #10 individual speaker in the nation last year, was part of four top 10-finishing pairs and received top five individual honors at American and William & Mary. She currently sits in 39th in the national Speaker of the Year competition.

Swarthmore is ranked #22 in the nation by the APDA, slotted between Boston University and Georgetown. Yale holds the top position, well clear of the competition.

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