With the promise of cold weather and stiff competition, the University of Miami’s debate team travelled to Indiana to compete in the fifth annual Hoosier Invitational Tournament in Bloomington. From Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, the UM team debated their way to the top of the rankings.

UM Novice Debaters clinched first and second place for the University of Miami. The UM team of Kladius Maynard and Lucas Baker won five of seven preliminary debates, advancing into the semifinal debate where they won a 3-0 decision over the team from Vanderbilt. Ranked by the American Debate Association as the top Novice Team, Anna Shah and Melissa Cavell won all seven of their preliminary debates before knocking off the University of Northern Iowa in semifinals.

The debate topic announced in June of 2014 had the team researching whether or not the United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marijuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, and the sale of human organs. Those five topics were researched during the months leading to the debate, as the team prepared for every possible argument and angle an opposing team could present.

“The performance in Indiana by Ana, Melissa, Kladius and Lucas was phenomenal and testimony to their hard work and dedication,” said David Steinberg, University of Miami’s director of debate.

UM was also recognized with individual awards. Cavell was named the first place speaker, Shah second, and Baker was named the fifth speaker in the tournament. Shah and Cavell are not strangers to winning. Last year, the duo debated for 20 hours during The Intercollegiate Debate Tournament at Georgia State University and won the Novice Division Championship helping the UM Debate Team reach sixth in national rankings.