ESU Debate ends fall semester on high noteDecember 6, 2011
The fall semester ended much as it started for Emporia State debate, as one of the top debate teams in the nation.
Ryan Wash and Latoya Williams-Green, known in debate circles around the nation as Emporia WW, stepped off the plane at Logan International Airport in Boston intent on making a name for themselves at Harvard’s annual college debate tournament Oct. 29 through 31. If the world of collegiate policy debate didn’t know them before, then they surely know them now.
Harvard, though smaller than many of the other national tournaments, is highly competitive, concentrating all of the nation’s top squads into a three-day debate tournament. The first day of the tournament saw the team win their first three debates, beating opponents from the University of Minnesota, Rochester and an Ivy League titan Dartmouth. The wins solidified Emporia State as one of the top teams at the tournament after the first full day of competition. The second day saw Emporia State garner wins against Concordia College and the University of Columbia, cementing their 5-3 record and a shot at the elimination debates on Monday.
Williams-Green earned 15th place speaker award and Wash earned 16th speaker. WW’s loss in the octofinals placed them in the top 16 of the tournament.
The last, largest and most prestigious tournament of the fall semester, The Franklin R. Shirley Classic at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., capped the season in dramatic fashion. Held Nov. 11 through 14, The Shirley represents the gold standard for invitational debate tournaments, providing unparalleled competition and hospitality.
Wash and Williams-Green made a few strategic changes to their bevy of arguments and were ready to take on schools with academic prowess that dwarfs Emporia State’s in almost every way except debate. Wash and Williams-Green tore apart their competitors in the eight rounds of preliminary debate, beating University of Michigan, Liberty University and regional rival University of Kansas among others. Their stellar performance in the preliminary debates placed them as the ninth seed of nearly 130 teams for the elimination debates.
Emory was the first draw for Emporia for the double-octafinal debate on Monday. Emory’s history of debate excellence did not manage to matter in the debate against Emporia. Ryan and Toya won the debate on a 2-1 decision, placing them in the top 16 of the remaining participants.
Wake ended the semester with Wash and Williams-Green maintaining and exceeding many of the expectations of the coaching staff.
“We knew we were in position to have a great season but position doesn’t matter much when you get into competition and many teams highly ranked in the pre-season have fallen in autumn,” said Samuel Maurer, director of Debate at ESU. “Looking back on a completed fall semester now, we are convincingly in the top 16 and it feels good.”
The next month presents an opportunity for ESU debate to build off of the stellar season thus far, seeking more key wins against larger and more prestigious schools. The next competition is scheduled for the back-to-back tournaments Jan. 3 through 5 at the University of Southern California and Jan. 7 through 9 at California State Fullerton. Both are relatively small but highly competitive tournaments that will provide Wash and Williams-Green the necessary experience before the national championship in March.
For live tournament updates and stats, follow the team on Twitter at @Esudebate11_12