Mercer debate duo takes flight

Mercer’s debate team has been selected to compete in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, the most selective and competitive national debate tournament in the country. This is Mercer’s first time qualifying for the tournament, and Mercer is the only team in Georgia’s history to attend the competition.

Mercer’s debate team recently debated in the Utah Mile High Swing, a tournament held at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Lead by Dr. Vasile Stanescu and assistant coach Erica Eaton, two Mercer teams entered the competition: seniors Hunter Pilkinton and Lindsey Hancock, and freshmen Jazmine Buckley and Kyle Bligen. The seniors advanced past the preliminary stage and into the out-stages.

“It has been one of our goals to break at a West Coast-style parliamentary tournament since we started debating together as sophomores, because tournaments that take place on the western side of the nation are much more competitive than the ones we typically compete in here in the South,” said Hancock. “Our freshmen team, Jaz and Kyle, also had a 2-3 win-loss record at the tournament, which is huge because they were competing in varsity. Very few freshmen anywhere in the nation are doing that well on the varsity debate level.”

Each of the four debaters ranked among the top 50 individual debaters in the tournament. Hancock ranked 17th, Pilkinton 21st, Buckley 30th and Bligen 45th. They competed against 80 teams and 160 debaters.

“On Mercer’s team, we believe that debate is more than just a game of winners and losers, but rather, an opportunity and a platform to speak the truth and seek higher truths. We use our debate rounds to spread messages, so we were very proud to be able to break at the tournament while doing this,” said Hancock, who was very happy with her team’s performance.

Pilkinton and Hancock’s success at the Utah Mile High Swing, along with their winning record this season, earned them enough point to qualify for the National Parliamentary Tournament.