HAYS, KS -- For just the second time in the history of Fort Hays State University debate, a team came home with a first-place tournament finish in its hands.
The team of Joe Ramsey, Sterling junior, and Jason Regnier, Salina junior, 1024 Gypsom Ave., won the Fiesta Baylor Tournament, held at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, Jan. 19-22.
More than 69 teams competed at the tournament, where the FHSU team finished a perfect 13-0 for the weekend.
"The national debate community is definitely taking note of FHSU. The whole squad worked extraordinarily hard for this one and I believe it showed. We beat a number of teams we needed to beat. A 13-0 performance is something for us all to proud of," said Dr. William Shanahan, assistant professor of communication and debate coach.
In the preliminary rounds, the team defeated teams from the University of Kansas, Northwestern University, Emory University, Redlands University, the University of Missouri at Kansas City, Whitman University and the University of Texas-San Antonio.
Of the 138 individual debaters, Ramsey received fourth place and Regnier received eighth place.
Brent Saindon, Wichita junior, 13214 Castlewood Road, is the third member of the team.
"He has been practicing and researching diligently for us without the direct recognition," Shanahan said.
On Jan. 12-15, the team traveled to the State University of West Georgia.
There, the team of Ramsey and Regnier tied for fifth, losing in the quarterfinals to Wake Forest University, the top seed during the preliminary debates.
Nearly 60 teams and more than 100 debaters competed at the tournament.
"This was the most difficult tournament for us this year. All the best teams in the country were there," Shanahan said.
Those teams included some of the most recognized debate schools in the country.
"Quarterfinal teams were a veritable who's who of debate schools: Dartmouth College, Emory University, the University of California-Berkeley, Northwestern University, the University of Iowa, North Texas University, Wake Forest University, and little old FHSU, who ain't so little anymore," Shanahan said.
At West Georgia, Regnier received 24th individual speaker and Ramsey received 28th.
"I said we had to start beating the top teams more regularly. I believe we began that process in Georgia and we are ecstatic. We have to keep the level of our game high and see what happens. As in all competition, hard work and ability are not all that matters," Shanahan said.
Ramsey and Regnier will continue to work toward qualifying for the national debate tournament when they travel to Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, from Feb. 2-6.
The top 16 teams, as determined by the debate community, are awarded with first-round bids to the national debate tournament. Shanahan said he believes the tournament at Northwestern should determine if FHSU receives one of those bids.
"Well over a hundred teams should attend. If we lose, we will not lose because we did not try our best. This team had several 'gut checks' at Baylor and emerged unscathed. I continue to be impressed by their stamina," Shanahan said.
Shanahan is also quick to recognize the support the team has received from the FHSU community and notes that it has been critical in the team's success.
"I keep saying it, but we could not succeed without this university's support. These are exciting times for FHSU debate."