Debate team adds two top-10 performances to record

Debaters from Fort Hays State University have rung in the new year with two top-10 performances in tournaments earlier this month.

The first competition, Jan. 4-6 at the University of North Texas, pitted FHSU debaters Michael Richardson, Hutchinson senior, and Phil Bouska, Goddard sophomore, in a tournament of six preliminary debates. Competing against Cornell University, the University of Texas at Dallas and Wichita State University among several others, the team managed a 4-2 win-loss record, seeding sixth out of the 43 competing teams.

" Unfortunately, we started a new set of arguments this semester, returning to the indigenous issues that have stood us so well over the years and were not as prepared as we needed to be in the octafinals debate," said Dr. William Shanahan III, debate coach and assistant professor of communication studies. "We were matched against a team from the University of Oklahoma, who also debates indigenous issues. We lost the coin toss to determine sides for the debate -- the first coin toss that I have lost in nearly two years -- and were forced to negate what we usually affirm."

After a nearly hour-long decision, the team lost an 0-3 decision from the panel of judges.

" While we were disappointed about the loss of all three judges, this represented a strong top-10 finish to begin the semester -- something to really build on," Shanahan said.

Richardson was named seventh-place individual speaker and Bouska ninth out of the 86 debaters to compete.

" This is awesome for both of them since occasionally they win ugly, and this is a sign that each is beginning to come into their own and both are winning the respect of the judging community," Shanahan said.

The second competition, Jan. 8-10 at the University of Texas in Dallas, had 52 teams, many from the national circuit, each competing in seven preliminary debates.

" Michael and Phil struggled a bit in the prelims with a 4-3 record. However, defeating some impressive competition," Shanahan said.

The duo was seeded 13th out of 52.

" Because of our weaker prelims, we had to debate in a partial double-octafinal debate against Wayne State, a team we have battled with this year several times already. Michael and Phil continued to avenge an early season loss and extended their win streak against Wayne State -- a team that generally argues that we should not be allowed to debate the ways that we do, so there tends to be a real clash of civilizations between our radical approach and their conservative take on debating theory."

FHSU won a quick 2-1 decision and moved to the octafinal rounds debating against the University of Missouri-Kansas City. FHSU lost on a 1-2 decision.

Richardson received 15th place in the individual speaker category out of the 104 debaters.

" This is an excellent start to the semester. Two top-10 performances and a few individual speaker awards," Shanahan said.

Paul Mabrey, Manhattan senior and former team member, acts as a student coach.

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