The Policy and Parliamentary Debate Programs are off to a great start with excellent showings at the year's first two tournaments.


In Policy Debate, an intense, fast paced form of debate requiring hours and hours of indepth research, Seniors Eric Chalfant and Mike Meredith advanced to quarter-finals at the extremely competitive Gonzaga University tournament defeating Texas's top team and one of the University Southern California's top teams before losing to the same USC team in quarters. Eric was also a top 15 speaker at the tournament. Sophomore Nate Cohn and Junior Sam Allen as well as Frosh Daniel Straus and Junior Luke Sanford advanced to octafinals. Four other Whitman teams competed at the tournament. 


Whitman's showing of three teams in octafinals matched UC Berkeley as the best for a school at the tournament but Whitman advanced a team past the octafinals whereas UC Berkeley did not.


While Gonzaga featured 5 to 8 of the nation's top teams and many other strong teams, Eric, Mike, Nate, Sam, Daniel, and Luke will travel to the University of Kentucky on the first weekend of October and face even more of the nation's best teams at one of the year's largest tournaments.



In Parliamentary Debate, an extemporaneous, broad based knowledge form of debate, Senior Jeff Wilson and Frosh Chris Fleming advanced to semi-finals in open division at the Reed College tournament. Chris also received a top 10 speaker award. Senior Chris Fryefield and Sophomore Amy Soderquist advanced to quarterfinals and Senior Annie Hickman and Frosh Joel Wilson advanced to the partial double-octafinals. In novice division, Ryan Lum and Cat Valverde took FIRST PLACE and Ryan and Cat were first and second speaker respectively.   


Overall, the Whitman Parliamentary squad finished first in NPDA Sweepstakes at the tournament including over Willamette, Puget Sound, Western Washington University, Lewis and Clark, Oregon, Reed, and Pacific Lutheran--the parliamentary powerhouses of the Northwest.


jim :)





The strength of a program often is in how it handles the challenges it faces and there have been plenty over the past month.


In Policy Debate, five teams traveled to Pepperdine University for competition against some of Southern California's best teams. After preliminary competition, four of our five teams advanced to elimination rounds including Junior Luke Sanford and Frosh Daniel Straus; Sophomores Lewis Silver and Dave Mathews; Frosh Jonathan Dentler; and Frosh Allison Ikeda and new team member Gary Wang. The squad went home to the Cotlers, generous and fun loving parents of a Whitman student who host our team to help us save money. After a restful night of sleep, Jim woke to a call from the tournament director to hear that the remainder of the tournament was cancelled because the Malibu fire had closed the Pepperdine campus. Unfortunately, we were not able to get back to the tournament for our tubs of evidence and so they are being mailed to us this week.


Even with the unusual situation, the squad took pride for Whitman advanced more teams into the elimination rounds than any other school at the tournament.


In early October, the squad also sent three teams to the University of Kentucky where it was tough going. Seniors Eric Chalfant and Mike Meredith and Luke Sanford and Daniel Straus went 5-3 and Sophomore Nate Cohn, suffering from laryngitis, and Junior Sam Allen went 4-4. This tournament is very difficult so those results are commendable but less than we had hoped. Eric, Mike, Nate, and Sam are at the Harvard tournament as I write this.



We've had a lot of changes in the makeup of this part of the team during the past month with various illnesses, event conflicts, partner repairings, and a few students moving on to other things. Still, the team had a successful showing at the Lewis and Clark tournament, particularly in speaking events. 8 of our 10 events advanced to finals producing a gleaming set of awards:

Senior Chris Fryefield, 2nd, Extemporaneous Speaking

Senior Maile Zheng, 3rd, Extemporaneous speaking

Frosh Cat Valverde, 5th, Extemporaneous speaking

Sophomore Amy Soderquist, 6th, Extemporaneous speaking

Frosh Kristen Coverdale, 2nd, Impromptu speaking

Frosh Joel Wilson, 3rd, Impromptu speaking

Frosh Ryan Lum, 5th, Impromptu speaking

Frosh Nigel Ramoz, 6th, Impromptu speaking

Nigel and Maile advanced to quarterfinals and Kristen and John advanced to semifinals in Junior division of Parliamentary debate.

Nationally, the Whitman Parliamentary squad is 16th in the nation and is the highest ranked team that has been to only two tournaments (meaning our ranking is likely to increase).

The squad heads to the University of Puget Sound this weekend but sadly is missing two more students due to illness and a conflicting event.



After the students return from Harvard and the University of Puget Sound--it is time to work on the High School Tournament--a major undertaking with the hundreds of high schoolers, coaches, parents, and judges that come to our campus. The tournament takes place Thursday afternoon November 1 through Saturday evening November 3.


jim :)




in case you aren't on the community listserv . . . (also sent to the faculty listserv)


Whitman College's Policy Debaters have come roaring back at the end of the season for an amazing conclusion.


It has been a very tough semester for the team. Senior Eric Chalfant has faced multiple eye surgeries for a tumor and was not able to attend two important tournaments; three students were not able to compete at two other key tournaments; and the team had a really disappointing showing at the important UC Berkeley tournament in mid-January.


Despite his troubles, Eric and his partner, senior, Mike Meredith, were still ranked 28th in the nation in early February. But, the squad's morale dropped and with the cold, icy weather, Hunter seemed kind of empty.


But in late February, the lights started burning again in Hunter. Students and coaches worked hard to get ready for the national championship tournaments and specifically the Northwest CEDA Championship. The work paid off. Eric Chalfant won the coveted Becky Galentine Top Speaker Award. Whitman had 3 of the top 4 teams at the tournament including Eric and Mike who took second and semi-finalists sophomore Nathan Cohn and frosh Daniel Straus and junior Sam Allen and junior Luke Sanford.


Then, Nathan and Daniel went on a 9 win in a row streak at Frosh-Sophomore Nationals before losing on a close 2-1 decision to place 3rd in the nation. Nathan was named the top Frosh-Sophomore speaker in the Nation at the tournament.


From there, the team was pumped up and spent nearly a full week of researching during spring break preparing for Nationals. Whitman blew away the competition at the CEDA National Championship held at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas--advancing 4 teams to the double-octafinals (top 32), more teams than any other squad in the country including Dartmouth, Kansas, Emory, Missouri State, Texas, and many others. Our teams advancing include Luke Sanford and Sam Allen (tied for 5th place), Nate Cohn and Daniel Straus (tied for 9th place), Mike Meredith and Eric Chalfant (tied for 17th; they had a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in the double-octafinals), frosh Nick Griffin and sophomore Spencer Janyk (tied for 17th). A fifth team, frosh Jonathan Dentler with hybrid partner Robby White from WWCC, advanced to triples (top 64).


A special kudos to Assistant coach Aaron Hardy as well as to Ross Richendrfer '07 alum who have worked tirelessly for hours and hours to assist and teach our students; they really are helping to advance Whitman's mission of building critically inquiring minds as these students learn voluminous amounts about Middle East policies (this year's topic) and contemporary political philosophy.