Barking Bulldogs see early success at Sun Devil Invitational Debate Tournament

Barking Bulldogs - Payton Polanco

Photo: Payton Polanco


Recently, the Barking Bulldogs traveled to Tempe, Arizona to participate in the Sun Devil Invitational Debate Tournament hosted by Arizona State University. 

Two teams entered in the Novice division. One of those teams was a hybrid team with Southwestern College which combined the talents of Payton Polanco from Fresno State with Isabella Avalos from Southwestern College.  

Polanco joined the debate team this semester without any prior debate experience. After achieving a 3-win-2-loss record in the preliminary rounds, the team advanced to the finals of the Novice division, where they were defeated by Arizona State in the finals and ranked 2nd overall. Payton was ranked 7th speaker in the Novice division — an incredible achievement for a team that has never debated before. 

The other Novice division team fielded by Fresno State included Demitria Wack and Joanna Lopez Sanchez. This was also their first tournament. They achieved a 2-win-3-loss record in the preliminary rounds and did not advance to the elimination rounds of the tournament. However, Wack was ranked 4th and Lopez Sanchez 8th speakers in the Novice division. 

Fresno State entered two teams In the Junior Varsity (JV) division. Jose Carlos Aceves and Sarah Saelee had a 4-win-2-loss record in the preliminary rounds, which allowed them to advance to the semifinals of the JV division. They lost their round to a team from Fullerton and were ranked 3rd overall in the JV division. Carlos Aceves was ranked 1st speaker in the JV division. 

Sarah Saelee in the front and Jose Carlos Aceves in the back
Sarah Saelee in the front and Jose Carlos Aceves in the back

The second team in the JV division was Scott Chapman and Lesly Salvador-Leon. They also had a 4-win-2-loss record and advanced to the semifinals, where they defeated Weber State and advanced to the final round of the JV division. Unfortunately, they narrowly lost the final round to Fullerton and ranked 2nd overall in the JV division. Salvador-Leon was ranked 10th speaker in the JV division.

In the Varsity division, Fresno State had a hybrid team with CSU Long Beach. Aaron Lowe from Fresno State debated with Jaysyn Green from CSU Long Beach. They had a 3-win-3-loss record in the preliminary rounds by defeating USC, Weber State, and Southwestern. 

Jose Carlos Aceves fist pumping competitors from other schools
Jose Carlos Aceves fist pumping competitors from other schools

“I am very proud of the hard work that each and every student put in to prepare for this tournament. Great job and Congratulations on your achievements!” said Tom Boroujeni, Director of Debate, Department of Communication.

He went on to thank the assistant coach and former student debater, Primavera Leal Martinez.

“Her coaching was instrumental to our success in the JV and Novice divisions,” said Boroujeni. 

The debate teams are sponsored in part by Associated Students Inc. (ASI), the College of Arts and Humanities, and the Department of Communication.

The next tournament is the Aztec Invitational at San Diego State University from October 4 to October 6.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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