Debate team wins Pa. title, dominates at Falcon Classic

Debaters, from left, Jacob Adams ’23, Rebecca Powell ’20,
Anna Claire Rowlands ’22, Susannah Barnes ’21,
Sebastian Anastasi ’23, and Andrew Furjanic ’20 took the PFACT title.

The Grove City College Debate Team started the spring season off by winning a Pennsylvania state championship and dominating a major competition in the Buckeye State.

The team competed in the Pennsylvania Forensics Association Championship Tournament (PFACT) Feb. 14 and 5 at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Unlike most of the National Parliamentary Debate Association tournaments Grove City College competes in, PFACT does not allow the use of the internet or collaboration with coaches and teammates during prep time. The format did not daunt the team as Grove City College’s three squads finished first, second and third in the Keystone State.

Grove City College only lost one round in the entire competition as they debated over a variety of topics including cyber warfare, time zones, the U.S. Department of Justice and whether “luxury is more deadly than any foe.”

Anna Claire Rowlands ’22 and Rebecca Powell ’20 finished the tournament undefeated, taking home the state title. Jacob Adams ’23 and Sebastian Anastasi ’23 were also undefeated over the weekend and earned the second-place title after speaker points broke the tie with their teammates. The final pairing of Susannah Barnes ’21 and Andrew Furjanic ’20 only dropped one round in the weekend, which secured them third place.

This win made Grove City College back-to-back PFACT champions. In 2019, debaters Carolyn Hartwick ’19 and Christopher Ostertag ’20 took the first-place title.

From left, Courage Houston ‘21, Caleb West ’23 , Andrew Furjanic ‘20,
Jonathan Skee ‘21, and Christopher Ostertag ’20 debated in Bowling Green.

The debate team followed up the state championship by heading west to compete in Bowling Green (Ohio) State University’s annual Falcon Classic on Feb. 22 and 23. A double header, the tournament offered two full days of International Parliamentary Debate Association competition. Grove City took the field against a diverse roster of schools, including St. Anselm College, Duke and Duquesne universities.

Team captain Ostertag led the charge, winning the first-place title on both days and anchoring the College’s successful bid for the tournament sweepstakes award on the second day. Furjanic and Jonathan Skee ‘21 posted strong finishes as well, with both advancing to semifinals on the second day, securing Grove City College three of the top four finishes.

“I think this weekend provided the victory that I may well look back on the most fondly,” Jason Edwards, debate coach and professor of history said. “The second day featured five Blue Devils from Duke University; ultimately witnessing a semifinalist score of Grove City College 3, Duke 1. A championship round of Duke falling to GCC did wonders for the heart of this Kentucky fan,” he said.

The squad is looking forward to hosting the National Christian College Forensics Invitational on March 6-8 at Grove City College.

Grove City College is a premier Christian undergraduate institution for debaters measured by the moral and academic caliber of team members, their maturity as individuals and as Christians, their willingness and ability to skillfully defend truth in a fallen world, and their history of success.

Debaters compete in Christian and secular debate tournaments, where they aspire to win and provide cultural witness through their arguments and principles. While the structure of debate can implicitly endorse relativism, Grove City College debaters reject that assumption and learn how to make strong arguments without violating conscience or indulging in fallacies. They are instructed to speak the truth exclusively and win debates and arguments honorably.

Committed to upholding the mission of the College, debaters are encouraged to put academics ahead of extracurricular activities and recognize – during and after competition –that they represent their faith, family, and Grove City College.

Debate team wins Pa. title, dominates at Falcon Classic

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