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The Clarion University Debate team earned the first "walk-over" in its history, helping one of its teams to a victory, another team to the semi-finals, and two more teams into the quarterfinals at the Liberty University Debate Tournament in Lynchburg, Va.

"Walk-over means we had two Clarion teams slated to debate one another in the quarterfinals, which meant the higher seed got to advance without debating," explained Jim Lyle, debate team coach and associate professor of mass media arts, journalism and communication studies at Clarion University. "Putting ourselves in position to get the occasional walk-over is very important because we automatically advance and have extra preparation time for other debates."

The Clarion University team of Aaron Swanlek and Andrew Zachar were crowned champions at the tournament, defeating two teams from Mary Washington College, one in the finals, and teams from the University of Florida and the University of Pittsburgh. Eighty-five teams competed in the Liberty Tournament with Clarion teams defeating Binghamton, Emory, Florida, George Mason, James Madison, Mary Washington, University of Pittsburgh, Richmond, Samford, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, and Wayne State

The topic for the 2008-2009 debate season is: Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should substantially reduce its agricultural support, at least eliminating nearly all of the domestic subsidies, for biofuels, concentrated animal feeding operations, corn, cotton, dairy, fisheries, rice, soybeans, sugar and/or wheat.

Clarion's team of Ellen Stolarski and Tim Michaels were semi-finalists at Liberty. The teams of Rose Hurn and Braden Picardi and Nicole Flick and Briana Fierst reached the quarterfinals. Fierst finished as the fifth best speaker at the tournament, with Flick sixth, and Swanlek seventh.

"I think this may have been one of the fastest starts we've had across the entire squad," said Lyle. "Some years we have one or two teams who may really stand out, but this year we've already had 12 different people in the elimination rounds. And, when you consider the fact that we're sending six, seven, and eight teams to a tournament, this shows how much we're growing."

Earlier this season, Clarion competed at the Western Connecticut State University Debate Tournament and the University of Richmond Debate Tournament.

At Western Connecticut State, the Clarion team of Jeff Ciak and Nate Renaudin were finalists, with the teams of Emily Salim and Sondra Christ and Stolarski and Ivan Zhuravlyov being octo-finalists. Stolarski was the sixth ranked speaker and Ciak was seventh. Clarion defeated teams from Boston College, Cornell, CUNY, Dartmouth, Marist, Rochester, U.S. Military Academy, Western Connecticut, and West Virginia University.

At Richmond, Va., the Clarion team of Hurn and Picardi reached the quarterfinals and Stolarski and Michaels were in the octo-finals. Ninety teams competed, with Clarion defeating teams from Binghamton, CUNY, Liberty, John Carroll, Mary Washington, University of Pittsburgh, University of Richmond, South Florida, Towson, and U.S. Naval Academy.

Aaron Swanlek, a freshman English major, is a son Susan Swanlek of Clarion, and is a graduate of Clarion Area High School.

Andrew Zachar, a senior management/industrial relations major, is a son of Edward Zachar of South Lyon, Mich., and is a graduate of Heidelberg American High School.

Tim Michaels, a junior speech communication major, is a son of Jeff Michaels of Elizabeth, and is a graduate of Elizabeth Forward High School.

Ellen Stolarski, a sophomore elementary education/library science major, is a daughter of Phil and Janis Stolarski of Elma, N.Y., and is a graduate of Iroquois High School.

Rose Hurn, a sophomore legal business studies major, is a daughter of Susan Hurn of North East, and is a graduate of North East High School.

Braden Picardi, a freshman finance major, is a son of Carol Macdonald of Hatfield, and is a graduate of North Penn High School.

Brianna Fierst, a freshman psychology major, is a daughter of Glenn and Jodi Fierst of Mayport, and is a graduate of Redbank Valley High School.

Nicole Flick, a sophomore accounting major, is a daughter of Melissa Flick of Warren and is a graduate of Warren High School.

Jeffrey Ciak, a freshman history major, is a son of Ann Ciak of Pittsburgh and is a graduate of North Hills High School.

Nate Renaudin, sophomore education biology major, is a son of Frances Renaudin of Townville and is a graduate of Maplewood High School.

Emily Salim, a freshman mass media arts, journalism and communication studies major, is a daughter of Lori Antholzner of Little Valley, N.Y., and is a graduate of Ellicottville Central High School.

Sondra Christ, a freshman Spanish major, is a daughter of Eric and Peggy Christ of Sidman and is a graduate of Forest Hills High School.

Ivan Zhuravlyov, a freshman physics/mathematics major, is a son of Lyudmila Liao of East Stroudsburg and is a graduate of East Stroudsburg High School South.

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

11/14/2008 10:01 AM

Clarion University achieves debate first at Liberty Tournament