HAYS, KS - Two second-year college debaters helped the Fort Hays State University debate team return from two end-of-the-year national debate tournaments boasting the highest level of success ever reached in the history of FHSU debate.
Team members included Joe Ramsey, Sterling sophomore, and Brent Saindon, Wichita sophomore. Coaches that went to the tournaments include Jason Regnier, student coach, Salina sophomore; Tony Penders, Hays graduate student; and Dr. William Shanahan, assistant professor of communication.
The squad made the elimination rounds of the Cross Examination Debate Association National Tournament held at Johnson County Community College, March 16-20. The team tied for 33rd with a 5-3 record in the preliminary rounds and lost a hotly contested 2-1 decision in the second bracket round debate to the University of Miami.
Along the way, the team defeated the University of Southern California, University of Kentucky, Liberty University, San Diego State University and Illinois State University.
At the National Debate Tournament held at the University of Missouri at Kansas City on March 23-27, the team made it to the elimination rounds, tying for 17th. A 5-3 record in the preliminary rounds set up a controversial 3-2 decision defeat to UMKC in the third bracket round.
In the tournaments, a set of preliminary elimination rounds narrows the field to 32 teams. With those teams, a single-elimination bracket is set up from which the eventual winner is determined.
The FHSU team ended the preliminary rounds ranked 15th by defeating Harvard University, West Georgia College, John Carrol University, Wayne State University and Michigan State University.
Teams participating at the NDT included 72 qualified teams from across the nation. Shanahan was extremely pleased with his team's performance at the NDT. "We were extremely happy with our performance. We prevented Harvard from going on the qualifying round. That was very exciting."
Going to the NDT is not only an extreme honor but a measure of accomplishment. Shanahan said that getting to that level is the ultimate emblem of success. FHSU was one of only 15 schools in the entire nation to get a team to the elimination rounds of both tournaments.
"This is whole-squad success," said Shanahan. " The two who competed in the competition deserve a lot of recognition for their efforts but everyone that contributes has to be recognized. We had a great year. We qualified at six out of the seven tournaments we went to."
"It is important that we recognize the support we have been getting by the administration. We have a good budget. They (the university administration) really understand the importance of it (debate)."
Thanks to this support, the team has gone to the NDT for the past two years. Before that, the last time FHSU went was in 1961.
The team will now prepare for next year by sending a couple of the squad members to summer workshops and begin working on next year's topic when they receive it. Shanahan said he and his team are looking forward to it though.
"We're really fairly young. It was a baptism by fire last year for these two (Ramsey and Saindon). The future looks very bright for us."