Tiger debaters head to 2 national tournaments

Debaters from Fort Hays State University will compete in two national tournaments in March.

The team of Avery Henry, Guymon, Okla., senior, and Chris Spurlock, Canon City, Colo., sophomore, will go to the Cross-Examination Debate Association National Tournament in Wichita from March 20-24 and the National Debate Tournament (NDT) at the University of California-Fullerton from March 27-31.

The Wichita tournament is open entry and usually draws about 200 teams, but the NDT is limited to 78, said Dr. Bill Shanahan, debate coach and assistant professor of communication at FHSU. Tiger debaters qualified for the NDT with an 8-0 record at the District III qualifier at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, from Feb. 22-24.

"We were undefeated, amassing an 8-0 record and qualifying top seed out of the most competitive district in the nation," said Shanahan. That "most competitive" assessment, he said, is "according to most debaters and coaches."

"Along the way, we defeated Missouri State, Baylor, two Texas-Dallas teams, Central Oklahoma, Kansas State and two University of Oklahoma teams."

District III is Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. Every team in the district was at the qualifier except for the three teams (two from KU and one from Missouri State) who are among the 16 top-ranked teams in the nation as decided by a vote of the nine district chairs. The top 16 are automatically at the national competition.

Earlier in February, Henry and Spurlock debated at the University of Texas, Austin, in a tournament that featured more than 150 teams, including, said Shanahan, “every one of the best debate teams in the country -- every one." The team finished with a 6-2 record in the preliminary rounds, defeating Berkeley, Georgia, Northwestern and Georgetown, among others, and losing to Harvard and Michigan.

Henry and Spurlock were ranked 22nd after the prelimary rounds, then lost a close contest to Harvard in the first elimination debate and ended the tournament tied for 17th.

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