Western Debate Union finishes in top 5 at national debate tourney

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 10:11am
Western Today staff

The season-ending national championship tournaments for the National Parliamentary Debate Association, held at Northern Arizona University, were a resounding success for participants from Western Washington University.

At the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, the team of Brendan Silk and Jacob Zerby finished in 12th place individually. The NPTE invites just 56 teams to participate based on points earned during the regular season. The team of Morgan Haskins and Kendra Thomas also qualified for the tournament for WWU. The event was held March 16 to 18.

The National Parliamentary Debate Association Championship Tournament is a come-one-come-all “open invitation” competition, including public and private, two-year and four-year, big and small schools, all competing against one another in the same division. With 151 teams from 53 different schools from around the nation participating, it is one of the largest academic debate competitions in the world. WWU took five teams to this event, and three made the elimination rounds. Advancing to the round of 64 was the team of Maxwell Evans and Lee Bartlett. The team of Silk and Zerby advanced to the round of 32. The team of Haskins and Thomas made its way to the quarterfinals, marking them as one of the top eight teams in the nation. Silk and Haskins were also recognized among the top 20 individual performers in the tournament. Other team members participating were of Garrett Mosier and Leo Steedle, and the team of Jennifer Monnier and Grace McDonough. The event was held March 20 to 23.

As a squad, points were earned by four of the five teams toward the tournament sweepstakes award, which is a measure of both the depth and quality of the teams present. In that aspect, WWU finished fifth overall in the nation, one place above Whitman College, with the only other public university in the top five being Washburn University in third. All other top five finishers were private schools (Lewis & Clark-4, Concordia-Irvine-2, William Jewell College-1). Western placed ahead of Whitman and other fellow Washington schools University of Puget Sound, University of Washington, and Clark College as well as outperforming such schools as the University of Oregon, University of California-Berkeley, San Diego State University, California State Long Beach, California State Los Angeles, University of Colorado-Boulder, Texas Tech University, University of Missouri, University of Utah, Rice University, the Air Force Academy and others.

“The tournament sweepstakes is a really good measure of squad quality, in the regular season lots of teams try to maximize their success at events by placing their debaters in lower divisions or looking for tournaments with lesser competition to rack up points. When you are at the Championship Tournament it is our best versus everyone else’s best straight up, and we came out really well. We tend to use our regular season events to develop new team members and challenge ourselves, so when we do face the best competition we are ready,” said Director of Forensics Steven Woods. Woods was assisted by coaches Korry Harvey, Stephen Moncrief and Colin Patrick (both former WWU debaters themselves), and Kristen Stevens.

Additionally, Western senior Jacob Zerby was one of three debaters nationwide selected to represent the US at an exhibition debate that was part of the opening ceremonies of the NPDA. The exhibition was a debate versus the Irish National Champions, selected by a competition sponsored through the Irish Times newspaper.

This is the 14th year in a row that the Western Debate Union has finished in the top 20 or better at the end of the season.

For additional information or questions, please contact Steve Woods at 360-650-4879 or steven.woods@wwu.edu.