This past weekend, UAA sent six teams to the 2016 United States Universities Western Region Championship debate tournament in Southern California. The Seawolves dominated the field, sending three of their teams to the final round, sweeping three of the top five individual speaker awards and winning the championship.
In addition to UAA, thirteen universities from Montana, Colorado, California, Washington and Hawaii sent teams to the championship. On Friday and Saturday, all six Alaska teams debated six rounds on different topics, including international sanctions, eco-terrorism and corporate liability. Of the total 64 teams competing, only eight would rank high enough to earn themselves a spot in elimination rounds. Advancing on behalf of the University of Alaska Anchorage were the teams of Jonathon Taylor and Johanna Richter, Sam Erickson and Sarah Elton, and Matt Ostrander and Jacob Shercliffe. All three teams breezed through the semifinal round, debating whether or not government ought to lie to their people about impending natural disasters, to advance as three-fourths of the field in the final round. There, the Seawolves faced tough competition from Carroll College on the question of partitioning Syria. In the end, it was the team of Sarah Elton and Sam Erickson who would cinch the win for UAA and earn the title of Tournament Champions.
Beyond being the best showing of the team collectively this year, several Seawolves further distinguished themselves as individuals to bring home speaker awards. Jonathon Taylor took fourth place, Sam Erickson third and Sarah Elton was named the tournament’s Top Speaker (out of the 128 who competed). It is quite the feat for any team to win a tournament, but to have two different teams in a single squad win a tournament in the same season is remarkable (Richter & Taylor in December; Elton & Erickson now). There is no question that as a team UAA Seawolf Debate is among the best in the U.S.
To see the tournament from an insider’s view, check out the team’s Instagram page @seawolfdebate.