BOISE, Idaho -- The LSU Shreveport Debate Team finished fifth overall out of 45 teams at the International Public Debate Association National Championship Tournament held this past week.

Of the four debate experience levels, LSUS peppered the novice and professional competition with two debaters in each category advancing deep into the tournament.

Novice Chloe Fresne placed sixth overall in the 93-member field while teammate Bailey Brown advanced to the quarterfinals.

On the professional level, graduate students Tommy James (quarterfinalist) and Megan Veilleux (octofinalist – round of 16) excelled individually in a 34-participant field.

The Pilots, with a robust 24-member team, cemented their spot among the nation’s best programs by placing fifth in the Founders Award standings, which rewards teams for their season-long performance and not just the national championship.

The LSUS professional squad placed third overall in the season rankings led by sixth-place Matthew Gedeon.

Other individual standouts this season include novice debater Cameron Thoele placing third and Bailey Brown finishing sixth, leading the novice squad to a fifth-place overall finish.

At the junior varsity level, CJ Longino came in eighth.

“We started with a very young, inexperienced team,” said LSUS debate coach AJ Edwards. “Our experienced debaters had 1-2 years of experience, and most of our team was in their first year of debate.

“You usually have to push kids to practice, but the most impressive thing about our students is that they were pushing and forcing me to practice more. They had a non-stop commitment and non-stop dedication to it.”

Edwards won Coach of the Year honors as voted by the organization and fellow coaches. He was one of five nominees, which included coaches from the University of Arkansas, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi.

He credits his team’s work ethic and support from the LSUS administration and faculty.

“The LSUS administration and the LSUS Foundation are so important to what we do,” Edwards said. “We see other schools struggling to make it to tournaments, but we know that our administration and faculty as well as the Foundation are constantly supporting and rooting for us.

“(The award) is overwhelming to say the least when you get recognition from your colleagues … and our team was more excited about it than I was, which shows you the type of students we have.”

While LSUS will be loaded for next year – just two members of the team are graduating with one of those continuing debate as a graduate student – the season isn’t over for four Pilots.

Debaters Daniel Davis, Cooper Longino, Jordan Guillot and Cameron Thoele will be competing in the Madison Cup at James Madison University, which will include several Ivy League schools along with other institutions like Georgetown.