ESU Debate Team cements elite standing nationally

January 29, 2012

January has been busy for Emporia State University’s top debate team of LaToya Williams-Green and Ryan Wash, both senior communication majors. After traveling thousands of miles to compete against the best in the country, Emporia WW (Wash and Williams-Green) have solidified their position among the ranks of the best in the country.

Going into the spring semester, Emporia WW was ranked 13th in the national coaches’ poll. That rank is certain to ascend after a collection of huge wins were accumulated at two tournaments in California and a successful round-robin performance in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The winter break was abbreviated by competition for ESU Debate. The team of Emporia WW and coach Sam Maurer flew to Los Angeles, Calif., on Jan. 2 to begin competition at the USC “Alan Nichols” College Debate Tournament (Jan. 3-6) immediately followed by the California State University Fullerton “Kathryn Klassic” (Jan. 7-10) in Fullerton, Calif.

At both tournaments, Emporia WW finished in the sweet 16 and – perhaps more importantly for national rankings – accumulated many head-to-head victories against some of the best teams in the country. Emporia WW defeated the University of Michigan’s top team (ranked No. 9 nationally), the University of California-Berkeley’s top team (No. 15), and Wake Forest University’s top team (No. 14) during the two competitions.

“Once a team becomes consistent against top-tier competition, what really makes them stand out is head-to-head wins against other top competition,” explained Samuel Maurer, director of debate at ESU, “not unlike rankings for collegiate athletic teams.”

At the Hochmuth Round-Robin, Emporia WW competed in the tallest academic building in the world, the Cathedral of Learning (42 stories and 535 ft. tall).  "Its just stunningly beautiful," said Sam Maurer, director of debate for ESU.. In November, because of a strong performance so far this season, Emporia WW received one of 14 invitations to an elite round-robin tournament at the University of Pittsburgh on Jan. 20-23.

“Being invited to the first annual Marie Hochmuth Round-Robin was a real honor,” said senior Wash.

During the round robin, Emporia was pitted against exclusively elite competition and rose to the challenge better than any other team from the Midwest.

Posting a record of four wins and two losses, Emporia WW outperformed every other team from Kansas, Missouri and Texas at the tournament.

Moreover, Emporia WW pocketed four more important wins in the process against the University of Kansas, Missouri State University’s top team (ranked No. 18), Wake Forest University’s top team and one of Harvard’s top teams. Wash was rated third overall speaker at the tournament.

With its next tournament coming in February at the University of Texas-Austin, ESU Debate can walk away from January feeling very confident about the goal of receiving a first-round at-large bid to the National Debate Tournament (NDT) at Emory University in March. This means that the NDT committee will rate their performance over the course of the season in the top 16 teams from every university in the country.

If ESU Debate is able to accomplish this goal, it would mark the second ever first-round bid received by Emporia State University, the first being awarded to the team of Keeshan and Fellers 36 years ago in 1976.

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