Debate team wins first national title

The University’s debate team took first place in the National Invitation Tournament for small schools held at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., March 19-21.

This is the first national championship for the University’s debate program.

The team of Jonathan Wolfson and Roxanna Mason beat a duo from McKendree College in the finals on an 8-1 decision. Sean Phillips and Abram Rose teamed to take fourth place.

Wolfson was also named the best individual speaker, while Mason and Rose took third and seventh places, respectively, in that category.

“The team is on cloud nine right now,” said Jennifer Rigdon, coordinator for speech and debate. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. They deserve all of the credit for their hard work and determination.

“It isn’t at all surprising that they won a national championship, given the talent of these students. I think we’ll continue to see great success from the speech and debate program in the future.”

The student-run debate team is funded by Student Union and the Office of Student Activities. The team started in the late 1990s and had no coach. Rigdon was hired in 1999 to coach the program, which now includes more than 30 students.

The team has been very successful. After winning the NIT, the National Parliamentary Debate Association ranks WUSTL No. 38 nationally out of 346 teams.

It also is the top-ranked student-run program in the country. Other student-run debate programs are housed at Harvard and Stanford universities.

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