HAYS, KS Three native Kansans from Fort Hays State University have proved that a "powerhouse" debate team does not have to be the largest, most expensive and most high-tech.
"The rapid rise to national prominence by these native Kansans is indeed rare," said William Shanahan, debate coach. "Their work ethic and commitment to self-improvement is impressive. Their roles as academic emissaries are worthy of this fine university."
The 2000-2001 FHSU debate team is Joseph Ramsey, Sterling junior; Jason Regnier, Salina junior, 1024 Gypsum Ave., and Brent Saindon, Wichita junior, 13214 Castlewood Road.
Throughout the fall and spring the team has continually reached high levels of success in a collegiate debate community that is traditionally ruled by large, nationally known institutions.
The team of Ramsey and Regnier tied for ninth and reached the round of 16 at the National Debate Tournament (NDT) at Baylor University in Waco, TX.
The NDT is considered by most of the debate community as the "crown jewel" of college debate.
Teams must qualify for the tournament. This year, 78 of the best teams in the country attended.
Ramsey and Regnier received a "first round" invitation to the NDT. At the tournament the panel of coaches ranked the team which reflects the season's accomplishments prior to the final tournament.
Ramsey and Regnier were ranked 10th in the nation. Additionally, they had a winning record against the two teams in the final round -- the University of Iowa, which won the tournament, and Emory University.
Before being defeated by Dartmouth College in the round of 16, the team defeated the University of Texas, Wake Forest University, Illinois State University, Wichita State University, Baylor University and the University of Iowa.
Regnier finished just out of the top 20 individual speaker awards. He received 23rd individual speaker ranking out of 156.
At the Cross-Examination Debate Association national tournament, held the week before the national debate tournament, at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN, the team also reached the round of sixteen. The team finished tied for ninth in the preliminary debates. Ramsey and Regnier were ranked sixth seed with a 7-1 win/loss record. Along the way, they defeated the University of Texas, the University of Miami, the University of Texas-Dallas, Emory University, North Texas, Gonzaga University, and Whitman University.
At the CEDA Nationals, Regnier received an individual speaker award of 14th out of 350 speakers. Ramsey finished out of the top 20 speaker awards, but finished in the top 30.
"Regnier's two individual performances at the CEDA Nationals and the National Debate Tournament project him to be one of the top returning debaters in the country next year," said Shanahan.
Saindon, a team member who competed in only three tournaments this year, received a debate All-American award from CEDA Nationals for his contributions to the team's success and his role in the CEDA debate community. Approximately 20 awards were given this year.
Shanahan described a moment which defined the year of the FHSU debate team.
"One of the most telling moments of the tournaments was during preliminary round eight of the National Debate Tournament. We debated Iowa and the winner would clear to the elimination rounds, while the loser would end their season. Before the round, as both teams prepared for the debate, there were approximately seven coaches, and another half-dozen Iowa student assistants were with the Iowa team where they had two computers and a printer. On the other side of the room were Jason, Joe and I calmly talking about strategies.
At one point, Iowa's printer failed and they considered going upstairs to where they had their serious technician, but they managed to make it work. I smiled and raised a single pen, indicating the level of tech we thought was necessary to defeat them. The room of about fifty observers burst into laughter."
"This anecdote represents our year. A small debate program from western Kansas taking on one of the perennial debate powers, who had an extraordinary amount of personnel and resources. Those were some of our sweetest victories."