Debate places third at national tournament

Travis Perry

Having one person ranked in the top 30 at a national tournament of over 400 participants is a feat, but having three is an accomplishment hard to match.

With respective speaker-award rankings of 16, 20 and 26, juniors Annaleigh Curtis, Marcus Schultz-Bergin and freshman Tyler Dooley each contributed to Washburn’s third place finish at the National Parliamentary Debate Association Tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Jim Schnoebelen, assistant director of forensics for Washburn, said he was very proud of the team’s performance, placing behind perennial performers Point Loma Nazarene and Western Kentucky University

Dooley, from Independence, Mo., was a surprise to most in this tournament, mainly due to the fact it is difficult for freshmen to compete with older, well-known debaters.

“Being a freshman is hard, because you may lose a round to somebody who is a senior just because they’re a senior,” said Dooley.

Partnered with Jessica Otto, junior, Dooley said her leadership and experience helped him grow not only as a debater, but as a person as well.

Faced with more than the opposition of other debaters with radically different styles, the Washburn debate squad also had to overcome a lack of Internet access at the tournament this year. While they were without the luxury of being able to mine data on the Web between rounds, Schnoebelen said it helped more than it hindered the team.

“I think it in some ways made for a more level playing field,” said Schnoebelen. “So many teams, when they have access to the Internet will try and find [tricky and obscure] cases to run that are very specific. I don’t think that it helped or hurt anybody.”

The decision was made by Colorado College, and Schnoebelen believed it was made on the basis of security concerns. Giving over 400 unregistered users access to a secure network gives the possibility for multiple breaches in the university network security.

While the National Forensics Association tournament is still ahead for the team, Schnoebelen is already looking toward next year and the talented recruiting class that will come to help bolster the already-sizeable team. Schnoebelen said the team already has 10 commitments to Washburn, about half of which are going to be transfer students. While it is not typical for debate teams to recruit students from other four-year universities or community colleges, Schnoebelen said it would be a big part of next year.

“That’s going to be key next year because they already have the experience,” said Schnoebelen. “Then we can focus on those new people who are just coming out of high school.”

Schnoebelen said he was extremely proud of the performance of the team this year, and believed that the cohesiveness that they have achieved has been a large part of the success they’ve achieved.