On April 12th, Jesuit Debate trekked up to Weber State in Ogden, Utah for its final tournament of the year, and for most of the seniors, their final debate ever. At Weber State, the teams would compete in the National Debate Coach’s Association (NDCA) Championships, an all-star tournament of sorts which both Jesuit Debate Coaches, Mr. Dan Lingel and Dr. Tracy McFarland, have served on as presidents of the association as well as board members.
Three Jesuit teams were invited to the tournament, which took the top 100 teams in the nation based on points earned during the debate season. Of the many skilled debaters Jesuit had this year, the teams who had enough qualifying points were the teams of Jackson Pyke ’14 and James Ferrara ’14, Bryce Tsao ’14 and Adam Wiechman ’15, as well as Bennet Harrison ’15 and Chandler Dawson ‘15. Surprisingly, the Harrison-Dawson team had the best finish of the three groups, ending with a 3-3 record and outperforming the other teams which had at least one senior each.
The teams made a showing, but did not make it to the top 32 teams, so their tournament ended with just six debates. The juniors won their first debate, then alternated wins and losses for the remainder of the tournament. Lingel remarked “We were really pleased with the juniors and how they did [at the NDCA championships],” noting the level of exposure they were able to gain.
Ferrara and Pyke started strong, winning their first two debates against college prep schools from California and Florida respectively. However, they lost the final four debates to formidable opponents from the northeast who all had success later in the rounds. “It was a great experience, although I wish we could have done a little better,” Pyke commented. Ferrara agreed on the tournament as a whole: “The NDCA was a good tournament to end my debate career on because we were able to watch some of the nation’s best debaters and use some of the arguments we were not able to use during State.”
Tsao and Wiechman had a similar experience, beating two teams from Utah and Tennessee, but then losing their last four debates. “Since we started out 2-0, we were matched up against other 2-0 teams, so our competition was really hard after the first two,” Tsao explained. Wiechman gained the exposure of debating against the best and will hopefully use this going into next year’s debate season, when he will help take the reins of the program along with the other upperclassmen.
As a whole, Jesuit debate finished around the top 50 teams which was their rank entering the tournament. Lingel explained, “They didn’t do quite what we had hoped for,” but he went on to express great expectations for next year’s program: “One of the things we’re excited about is that we have five or six guys at each of the grade levels who have all done very well.”
Now, these debaters do not have a true “off-season” as most of them find themselves at college campuses over the summer, finely tuning their debating abilities. Wiechman and Harrison will be studying at Dartmouth, where McFarland will be teaching, and Dawson will be studying at Gonzaga, where Lingel will be teaching.
Here, they will work on broad skill-building, but they will also keep next year’s debate topic in the back of their minds: exploring and developing the Earth’s oceans, a topic which Jesuit debated exactly one decade ago. Debaters in the past truly enjoyed debating this topic because of its many applications – over-fishing, global warming, general exploration, the ocean’s energy possibilities, pollution, ocean mysteries, marine life, etc.
With the future extremely bright, Jesuit Debate hangs its hat on a successful season, parting ways with its seniors but anxiously looking toward the juniors. The 2014-2015 school year should yield the same level of excellence that has come to be expected by Jesuit Debate.