Today capped off the Pioneer Invitational, Lewis and Clark’s annual debate tournament. It’s a long, drawn-out affair because the tournament director insists on interspersing IE rounds between debate rounds. Our seven rounds of parli required us to be on campus for around 24 hours over three days.

BUT the Lewis and Clark draws some of the best teams in the country, so the crappy schedule is really small potatoes. Four of the best squads in the country, Western Kentucky, Colorado College, Berkeley, and Texas Tech, sent teams this. Basically every major squad in the NW–Oregon, Willamette, Western Washington, UW, etc…–showed up, too.

Willamette’s performance was pretty mediocre. We brought nine teams to the tournament, with all but one in the open division. I haven’t seen the tab sheet yet but it’d be safe to say we got *pwnd*. Willamette CL cleared at 4-2 and while BD and I (Willamette DR) eeked out three break round wins to advance with the same record. Two sophomores, Willamette OW, went 3-3. Everyone else was 2-4 or worse. At least one of our open teams was 1-5 with a bye.

It’s very frustrating to me and E. We’ve been putting in a lot of time and effort with the newbies, but they don’t seem to be improving. Prep time is an absolute circus with 18 debaters and one coach, especially when 16 of the debaters can’t string together a disad without some one holding their hands. I understand that it takes time to learn this stuff, but I feel like our effort is just wasted. Before round five we guessed that the next topic would be ag subsidies, so we got to spend almost an hour talking about disadvantage stories. Excepting CL and DR, every Willamette team lost the round.

I had a pretty stressful tournament. We dropped our two of our first three rounds, which made the last three do-or-die. Our first lost, to Texas Tech, was a little irritating because our strategy was close to air tight. Tech is good though, and they made it a close round. Unfortunately for us, teams with reputations win close rounds against teams without reputations (NB, MA!).

Loss number two came in the third round to–and this is embarassing–Jeff Wilson’s little brother. The topic was nuclear energy, so BD and I run the lithium CP on liquid-metal fast-breeders. It’s an impossibly tight opposition strategy, and if the judge had been flowing instead of making notes on his ballot, I’d have been 100% confident of a win. But he wasn’t. At the end of the round he ignores the CP because without evidence we can’t prove that lithium is less likely to kill us all. I wanted to ask him how I could prove the sky is blue. Funny thing is, even without the CP we were still crushing them on the net-benefit with our meltdown DA. Of course, there’s no way you could know that if you didn’t flow the debate.

But despite the losses we cleared the prelims and byed through exceedingly partial doubles to octa-finals. We hit Western Washington’s top team and dropped 2-1 on T. It was a pretty close round, but I wasn’t surprised. I mishandled T a bit in the MG and BD just can’t clean up my messes yet. The coach of Western Kentucky voted for us, though, which shows it was a damn close round. Overall, I’m proud of our performance.

I think there are two morals to this story: First, we need more coaches. RL is good at his job, but no one person can manage 18 people on either side of a resolution in a 20-minute prep time. Literally every competitive squad I talked to had three, four, or five coaches on staff or just helping out with the tournament. Second, BD and I aren’t going to put points on the board as long as our winning requires me being perfect. We’re good enough to consistently beat lousy teams, but we’re not going to win a lot of close rounds until BD can close the deal in the PMR.

OH and I got 7th speaker. That’s two speaker awards in a row…I’m not sure what’s up with that.