Whitman debate team wins fourth consecutive national championship

April 9, 2013

Karah Kemmerly '14

Debate Team group photo
First row: Emma Thompson ‘16, Duy Tran ‘16, Paige Joki ‘14, Margaret Rockey ‘16, Carly Johnson ‘13, Rania Mussa ‘15, Yajun Liu ’15.  Second row: Michelle Flores ‘14, Elana Simon ‘15, Satinder Haer ‘15, Noah Stern ‘16, Madeleine Kemme ‘16, Miranda Morton ‘13, Olivia Kipper ‘13 (student assistant), Andy Larson ’13.  Third row: Alex Zendeh (coach), Jonathan Barsky ‘15, Ben Menzies ‘14, Meritt Salathe ‘16, Shanglun Wang ‘13, Mari Sanchez-Garcia ‘16, Andrew Durand ‘16, Mitch Dunn ‘13.  Fourth row: Yonah Biers-Ariel ‘15, Zac Parker ‘15, Tom Shellum ‘15, Kyle Hendrix ‘16, Nigel Ramoz-Leslie (coach), Logan Emlet ‘14, Sean Mulloy ‘14, Marten King ‘14, Zach Tschia (coach) Not pictured: Nick Budak ‘14, Lauren Hauck ’16, Paul Eschbach ’15, Gladys Gitau ’16.

Members of the Whitman College debate team might not have returned from spring break this year boasting new suntans, but they did return with some coveted national titles.

For the fourth year in a row, Whitman's Parliamentary Debate Team won the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) School National Championship Sweepstakes, held this year at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

Because the sweepstakes factors in the top four partnerships' successes from four separate tournaments, the award showcases Whitman debaters' ongoing tradition of excellence, which has become a hallmark of the college.

"To win the school sweepstakes, you need a program that has deep talent-not just a top team or two," said Jim Hanson, debate coach. "You need a squad with broad based talent and effort to make this happen."

The Whitman team also had the honor of competing in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE) at the University of Nevada-Reno and at the Cross-Examination Debate Association National Championship Tournament at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho.

In addition to the team award, several individual students earned impressive honors. Miranda Morton '13 won a first place speaker award out of 314 students at the NPDA national championship. Marten King '14 nabbed second place and Mitch Dunn '13 earned fifth.

Notable partnership awards included second place at NPTE and ninth place at NPDA for Dunn and Morton; fourth place at NPTE and fifth at the NPDA for King and Shanglung Wang '13; and ninth at NPTE and 17th at NPDA for Andy Larson '13 and Paige Joki '14.

Whitman partnerships in all three tournaments advanced to elimination rounds in 13 out of 17 cases, and every partnership, including those composed of first-year debaters, had no less than a 50 percent win-loss record.

"I am proud of the dedicated work and effort the students put into their national championship performances," Hanson said. "They worked throughout the spring break and were as well-prepared as they could be. Watching them in practice debates was very exciting – they have improved so much over the year."