Two debate teams from Wake Forest among the top eight teams in country
Seniors Will Sears and Sam Crichton reached the "Final Four" in the National Debate Tournament March 23 before losing in the semifinals, while the team of Carlos Maza and Michael Carlotti reached the "Elite Eight." Sears was named the sixth top individual speaker.
It was the first time that two Wake Forest teams have finished among the top eight teams at the tournament in the same year.
Sears and Crichton compiled a 7-1 preliminary record and advanced to the semifinals with elimination wins over Idaho State University (Double Octa-Finals 5-0), Emory University (Octa-Finals, 6-1) and the University of Kentucky (Quarter-Finals, 4-1), before losing to Northwestern University (4-1).
Sears, an English major, is from Lexington, Mass. Crichton is a history major from Shreveport, La. Maza is a senior political science major from Miami, Fla. Carlotti is a sophomore from Erie, Penn., majoring in mathematical economics. The teams were coached by JP Lacy, interim director of debate.
Seventy-eight teams qualified for this year's tournament. Wake Forest was the only university with two teams competing in the quarter-finals. Teams in this year's tournament debated whether the U.S. should substantially reduce the size of its nuclear weapons arsenal, and/or substantially reduce and restrict the role and/or missions of its nuclear weapons arsenal. Michigan State University won the tournament.
Wake Forest has won the national debate championship twice. Alex Lamballe ('09) and Seth Gannon ('09) won the tournament in 2008 and finished second in the nation last year. In 1997, the Wake Forest team of Brian Prestes and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross won the championship.
Wake Forest is among a small number of schools that has qualified most often for the national finals. Wake Forest has had final four finishes at the tournament in 1955, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2006, 2008 and 2009, and has had numerous top individual debaters.
In addition to its nationally ranked debate program, Wake Forest also sponsors programs for high school students, such as the National Earlybird Forensics Tournament. The tournament, which draws a thousand high school debaters and speakers to campus each September, is one of the top 10 high school debate tournaments in the country.