UMW Students Attend National Debate Tournament

Peter Susko (left) and Colin McElhinny practice for the National Debate Tournament

The University of Mary Washington Debate Team qualified two groups of students to compete at the National Debate Tournament that began Thursday, March 29 at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. The tournament, which ran through Monday, April 2, hosted 78 teams this year, all chosen based on a competitive qualification process.  UMW has qualified for the National Debate Tournament 16 times in the tournament’s 66-year history, finishing as high as third in 2010.

Sophomores Patrick McCleary of Shrewsbury, Pa., and Colin McElhinny of Erie, Pa., qualified for the second consecutive year, placing second in the District 7 qualifying tournament, which was hosted by UMW in February.

Senior Peter Susko of Erie, Pa., and sophomore Thomas Pacheco of Baltimore, Md., comprise the second team.  Susko has previously qualified for the tournament and in 2010 reached the semi-finals. The duo finished eighth in the qualifying tournament, securing the district’s final spot for the national tournament.

The debate team came to school early in August and worked through parts of winter and spring break to research, give practice speeches and strategize arguments.  Ultimately, the students hope to compete beyond the preliminary rounds and the first elimination round of the tournament.

“Our teams have worked hard and they have demonstrated a capability to win big debates down the stretch,” said Debate Coach Adrienne Brovero. “We have assembled a good contingent of debaters, coaches and alums who will be on standby throughout the weekend to help us out with researching new arguments and strategies. We are very fortunate to have enthusiastic supporters from throughout the UMW community cheering for us.”

To see updated results of the tournament, visit

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News release prepared by: Anne Elder           

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.