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The Harvard Debate Council snagged its first national championship since 1985 this week, narrowly besting its year-long rival, the University of Redlands, by a 3-2 split decision.
En route to its record-tying sixth national title, the debate team bested challengers from a field of 72 different schools, before facing the third-ranked Redlands team in the finals in Carrollton, Ga.
Redlands, which was ranked third in the nation going into the event, represented the most formidable competition thoughout the debate season, according to team member Alexander T. Lennon '91.
"After the finals everyone said it was the most exciting debate they had seen in 15 years," he said.
But despite the skill of the California-based challengers, the Harvard team managed to retain its equanimity throughout the final match, said Lennon's partner, David S. Coale '90.
"It was close in the sense that both sides were so good," Coale said. "But it wasn't at all a fingernail-biting type debate."
Along with the championship team, another Harvard team qualified for the championships. The second team, which was ranked 10th going into the event, was eliminated by George Washington University in the first round.
The topic of the debate was the reduction of fossil fuel consumption by non-military users. Harvard's battle plan in the final debate was to argue that consumption could be reduced through the construction of nuclear power plants, according to second-team member Matthew D. Schnall '90.
Using this strategy, team partners Lennon and Coale compiled a 41-2 record--a 95 percent win rate--during the regular season. But the duo almost met its match in the University of Redlands team, according to Lennon.
"It was a very, very close debate. Everyone had almost perfect arguments," Lennon said. "I guess we won through a combination of being on the right side of the argument and being just a little bit better than the other guys."
"It was really rewarding to be in a debate that good," agreed Coale. "Both sides were just so pumped up about it."
Harvard defeated Loyola-Marymount University in the quarter-finals and Dartmouth College in the semi-finals before advancing to their match with the University of Redlands.
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