Debate team celebrates victory, prepares for Kentucky

The WSU debate team recently came home from a competition in Idaho with a final score of 14 wins and three losses. Its next stop is a competition at the University of Kentucky.

One of the groups from the WSU debate team is going to the University of Kentucky to compete against other universities, including Harvard and Dartmouth. There will be 160 teams and 75 universities competing. WSU’s Matt Gomez and Dillon Olsen will be debating the merits of providing democratic assistance in the Middle East, specifically dealing with Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Tunisia.

“I’m really excited,” Olsen said. “We’re relatively young, and this is a good opportunity to grow as debaters.”

Olsen started debating in high school and is currently a sophomore at WSU. He said he initially joined debate because he wanted to go to law school and was interested in politics and philosophy.

“There is nothing more mentally rewarding or challenging than debate,” Gomez said.

Gomez also started debate in high school after he transferred schools and was trying to fix his class schedule. Everything fit except a class for seventh period. “It was between weight training and debate, and the rest is history,” he said.

Olsen and Gomez have been spending a lot of time traveling for competitions. They traveled to Idaho last weekend, Kentucky this weekend and then, after a one week break, they head to Las Vegas, Nev. Despite all the travel, their school work has not suffered. In fact, they said it has improved.

“Debate makes it easier,” Olsen said. “It gives you less time, but you need less time.”

The pair is currently preparing for the competition in Kentucky by doing lots of research.

“They work like dogs,” Omar Guevara, faculty debate advisor, said. “They do extensive research and practice debates.”

Coaches will often pick a random topic and the debater will have to defend it, without practice or research.

During their last competition in Idaho, Olsen and Gomez were debating from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. “It was epic,” Gomez said.

It can sometimes be hard for an unrecognized school to win, but WSU’s latest successes have led to some recognition. The Kentucky competition will contain eight two-hour debates with sudden death elimination for the top 32 teams. For WSU to make it to sudden death, the team must win at least six of the eight debates.

“They can beat kids from Harvard,” said Omar Guevara. “We need to remember they are every bit as smart as the privileged kids at Harvard.”