Emporia State debate team prepares for another stellar seasonSeptember 15, 2011
Emporia State’s top debate team of LaToya Williams-Green and Ryan Wash are ready to build on last year’s milestone season. Known as Team Emporia WW, the pair, both senior communication majors, collected awards unseen at ESU in decades.
It began with standout performances at every major invitational tournament they attended.
The Franklin R. Shirley Classic, held at Wake Forest in November 2010, saw the pair advance to the octafinals, placing them in the top 16. Wake represents the most competitive tournament in the nation outside of the two national championships. Out-placing teams from Harvard, Michigan State and Emory put Williams-Green and Wash on the radar of every perennial debate powerhouse across the United States.
If, as a team, Emporia WW was formidable, then as individual speakers they were dominant. Every tournament attended, regional or national, saw one or both debaters receive accolades; often the top 5 — a rare feat for any team.
When the time came to earn their place at the National Debate Tournament, Emporia WW came prepared. The District III qualifier, held this year at Wichita State, saw the best teams from around the Midwest compete for the right to represent their schools in national competition.
District III roughly comprises the same schools as the NCAA Big 12 athletic conference. Teams from The University of Kansas, Oklahoma University, Baylor University, University of Texas-Austin and Kansas State University, among many others, were present. Losing only two of eight debates solidified Emporia WW’s second place finish and earned them a trip the national championship.
Emporia State set a school record in the 2009-10 season by sending two teams to the tournament. Last year, the program built upon that success. Emporia WW won the requisite five of eight preliminary debates needed to advance to the elimination rounds. Not since 2003 has a team from Emporia State advanced past the preliminary debates at the NDT. Wash and Williams-Green ended their season as the No. 17 team in the nation.
Williams-Green, continuing her rhetorical prowess, stunned the debate community as the 17th place speaker award. Not since 1966 has Emporia State garnered such an award. For a school as small as Emporia State, this achievement cannot be overstated.
The 2011-12 season promises to be an extension of last year’s success.
Both Williams-Green and Wash are back for another battle against the nation’s academic titans. They bring with them the savvy and experience that many of the reigning institutions like Emory, Harvard and Northwestern have lost this year, having graduated many seniors. Returning talent from KU, Baylor and Missouri State promises to provide the toe-to-toe competition that District III is famous for.
An informal preseason poll places Emporia WW in the top 10 teams in the nation, narrowly missing qualification to the prestigious Kentucky Round-Robin, held at the University of Kentucky. The Round-Robin hosts nine of the top preseason picks.