HAYS, KS -- Success is not always measured with a win, it often comes as a moral and personal victory.
It is just that type of success the Fort Hays State University debate team experienced at the Northwestern University tournament in Evanston, IL, from Feb. 2-6.
FHSU finished fifth at the tournament that is considered to be the culmination of the national debate season. The top 106 teams from across the country were present.
"This was the tournament at which the team had to do well. Literally every good team in the country was in attendance," said Dr. William Shanahan, debate coach and assistant professor of communication. "It is the last major tournament before the first-round bids to the national debate tournament are handed out to the top 16 teams in the country."
Shanahan said the trip to Northwestern was extraordinarily successful because of what team members Joseph Ramsey, Sterling junior, and Jason Regnier, Salina junior, 1024 Gypsum Ave., proved not only to others, but to themselves.
"They showed that they could debate when the pressure was on. They did not flinch when they lost an early round to Wayne State University. Instead, they summoned all of their inner strength and courage, tearing through the rest of the preliminary rounds, unwilling to rest on their laurels. They got up early and debated late. This was truly a beautiful debating performance," said Shanahan.
The team ended the preliminary rounds in seventh place with a 7-1 record, losing only to Wayne State University of Detroit, MI. They went on to defeat Michigan State in the double-octafinals and Dartmouth College in the octafinals and losing to eventual champion University of California-Berkeley in the quarterfinals.
Of the 212 individual speakers, Ramsey took 16th place while Regnier received 18th.
"I am thrilled with the effort put out by Joe and Jason."
Brent Saindon, Wichita junior, 13214 Castlewood Road, the team's third member, and Ramsey had one more chance to debate before the national tournament when they traveled to San Diego State University from Feb. 8-12.
The pair scored the third victory of the year for FHSU debate when they brought home the first-place team award from the Aztec Invitational.
Ramsey received the first-place individual speaker award.
After the preliminary rounds, the team was seeded third with a 4-2 record, defeating Kansas State University (twice), California State University at Fullerton and one of the two University of Southern California teams.
In the quarterfinals the team avenged one of their earlier losses by defeating the University of Missouri at Kansas City. They defeated Kansas State University for a third time in the semifinals. Then, in the finals, the team avenged their only other loss of the tournament by defeating the other USC team.
FHSU was the favorite entering the tournament.
"Expectations sometimes increase the pressure to perform. Fortunately, they were up to the task again," said Shanahan.
Shanahan submitted the team's application for one of the 16 open bids to the national tournament on Tuesday, Feb. 13. If the team does not receive one of the open bids when they are announced on Monday, Feb. 19, they will need to compete at the district tournament which will be held in Wichita from Feb. 22-26.
Note to editors: The release concerning the debate team sent on Jan. 31 incorrectly suggested that the team's win at Trinity University was the first win ever for the FHSU debate team. This was the first tournament victory for this year's team, and for Shanahan in his time at FHSU.