Debate duo exceeds expectations


Courtesy Photo

Jackson Hoffman and Jamie Welch

The Wichita State debate duo of Jackson Hoffman and Jamie Welch joined elite company this month.

Hoffman, a freshman, and Welch, a senior, qualified for the elimination rounds at the annual University of Kentucky fall debate tournament and finished as one of the top 32 teams in the field.

They are just the third WSU team in the last 20 years to do so.

Maurer said that the duo exceeded expectations in a field that included perennial powerhouses like Harvard and Northwestern.

“Every elite team in the country competed at the tournament,” Maurer said. “It is one of the most difficult tournaments of the year.”

The duo finished with a 5-3 record in the preliminary rounds and moved into elimination rounds where they lost to a team from the University of Kansas, the tournament’s top seed.

Each debate round consists of an affirmative team and a negative team — made up of two debaters each — debating the year’s resolution.

“One resolution guides everything for the whole season for the whole country,” Maurer said.

This year, the resolution is about health care.

The affirmative team presents a case fitting the resolution that the negative team debates against. Affirmative teams create a wide range of cases.

“Debaters have to be creative and driven on their own to invent arguments and guide themselves through research,” Maurer said. “So it’s not just like they’re replicating what other teams are doing and following paths that other teams are on research-wise.”

Maurer said that WSU debaters have already spent hundreds of hours researching health care.

“We’ve been making a big push in terms of work and trying to do as much research as possible,” Maurer said.

Each team competes in a certain number of rounds to determine whether or not they qualify for the elimination rounds.

“Debate tournaments basically work like a regular season and the playoffs all in one weekend,” Maurer said.

Maurer said that he hopes the team’s performance in Kentucky will set the standard for the rest of the year.

Wichita State will round out the fall season with tournaments at Northern Oklahoma College and Wake Forest University before kicking off a heavy schedule in the spring.

Last year, two WSU teams qualified for the national debate tournament. Maurer said that he hopes to improve on that performance.

Wichita State will be hosting the national debate tournament in March.

“We want to win it while we’re here,” Maurer said. “Why not? We’re the home team.”