Plane tickets for the national championship debate tournament in Spokane, Wash., have been purchased. Practices remain steady, every Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. in Robinson Hall. And two tournaments remain before the March 24-27 finals.

That’s what going on with Louisiana Tech’s debate team, ranked eighth in the nation and made up of team members representing a variety of majors spanning the University curriculum.

“That diversity helps us prepare for tournaments, and we build our cases together off each other’s knowledge,” Megan Smith, team coach and instructor in the School of Communication, said. “As a team we are strong because we are open to every Louisiana Tech student, no matter what level of debate experience a student has — even if they have no experience.

“We work together to improve our critical thinking skills and presentation skills,” Smith said. “We work hard to be competitive but even harder to lift every member to their potential and beyond. We are committed to our teammates and to representing Louisiana Tech in the best possible light as we travel to tournaments.”

Anyone interested in joining the team just needs to go to Robinson Hall Room 215 for a practice. Here’s how that practice has paid off so far this year:

  • At Lee College in Baytown, Texas, Timothy Winiarski, a freshman computer science major, was fourth-place speaker and a semifinalist. Maura Yeagle, a sophomore communication major, was a semi-finalist.
  • At the Southern Forensics Championship — the state tournaments for Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi — at Arkansas Tech University, the team finished second in the state. Winiarski was an octafinalist. Rachel Madore, a junior industrial engineer major, was fourth place in impromptu speaking and an octafinalist. Rachel Maxwell, a senior communication major, was a quarterfinalist. Nick Smith, a senior political science major, was an octafinalist.
  • At LSU in Baton Rouge, the team placed second in Debate and second overall. Winiarski was a semifinalist, first in preliminary rounds, and third-place speaker. Maxwell was a semifinalist and third-place speaker. Smith was a quarterfinalist. Nate Foster, a sophomore accounting major, was third-place speaker and finalist. Seth McReynolds, a senior industrial engineer major, was second-place speaker and finalist.
  • At Bossier Parish Community College, the team was fourth place in Debate and fifth overall. Winiarski was a double octafinalist. Bailey Anderson, a senior political science major, was a double octafinalist. Cole Nimmo, a senior political science major, was a quarterfinalist. Leah Hanna, a sophomore political science major, was an octafinalist, as was Madore.
  • While the team is currently in the Top 10 in the nation in both the Novice and Junior Varsity divisions, Winiarski is in the Top 10 in the nation in the Novice Division of the International Public Debate Association (IPDA) and Smith is in the Top 10 in the nation in the Junior Varsity Division of IPDA.

The team returns to Arkansas Tech in Russellville for a tournament this weekend and will compete at the University of Central Arkansas March 9-10 as warmups to the national championship at Whitworth University in Spokane.

The Louisiana Tech Debate Team is (front, from left) Alexis Harvey, Rachel Madore, Leah Hanna, Maura Yeagle, Rachel Maxwell, Bailey Anderson, (back, from left) Tristan Stroud, Jake Bryant, Timothy Winiarski, Charlie McBride, Cole Nimmo, Nick Smith, and Nate Foster.