The competition was held April 13-15 at Sam Houston State University in Texas. It was the first time any student at Whitworth had ever earned a national title for debate. The team won a total of six awards with two students, senior Travis Walker and freshman Jacob Wilson, closing out the competition as co-champions. Coach Mike Ingram said he was not surprised by the results.
“We’ve had a lot of success in the Northwest, and I thought we could go and hold our own with students from across the country,” Ingram said. “Am I surprised? No, because I think we have very strong students.”
Whitworth students debated against more than 28 schools and 94 students from all over the country. Junior Krister Johnson progressed to the quarterfinals. Senior Rachel Busick, sophomore Sam Director and freshman Laryssa Lynch all made it to the top 32. Lynch said she was happy with the success of the team.
“It’s interesting to start from the ground up and retrain,” Lynch said. “It does differ from high school to college. We really shocked some people with how well we have done coming back for the first year.”
The competition asked questions on a range of topics starting with the resolution, ‘Why Starbucks makes life better.’ The students had 30 minutes to prepare an argument for each topic given.
In the final round of the competition, Walker and Wilson were given the choice of either competing against each other or both holding the title of first place as co-champions. The two decided to maintain the strong unity of their team by sharing the win. Wilson said he was glad to have one of his teammates with whom he could uphold the title.
“The thing that I’m most proud of is not the fact that I won, but that I had a great friend as a co-champion and was able to represent Whitworth,” Wilson said. “They took a leap restarting the program and we’re proving that it was worth it.”
The forensics team held two three-hour practices each week and participants also had individual weekly consultations with coach Mike Ingram. At group practices, teammates performed practice rounds and helped each other answer questions on a range of topics. The team aspect of the forensics program was important to both the program’s coach and participants.
“My teammates are unquestionably some of the most important people,” Wilson said. “It’s highly improbable that you will succeed without a team.”
Ingram said he believes the program is beneficial to students who participate. He said he thinks knowing how to make an intelligent argument in front a group of people is a skill that is beneficial for students both in and out of the classroom.
Story by Sandra Tully Staff Writer
Photography by Tanner Scholten
Contact Sandra Tully at email@example.com.