Senior biology majors Tanner Long and Kandin Maraquin won first place at the California Cup debate tournament Nov. 20, a first for the debate team. The duo and four other teams of two from La Verne competed against over 60 teams from approximately 14 universities from across the nation. The Debate team will be advancing to the World Universities Debating Championship in December.
The competition spanned three days, Nov 18 to Nov 20. Each day was hosted at a different university; USC, UCLA and Claremont McKenna College. Four preliminary rounds were held on each day. Only four teams could advance to the championship round.
At least one team from La Verne advanced to the championship round each day. On the third day, Long and Maraquin reached the championship round along with another La Verne team including senior philosophy major Meaghan McHenry and senior political science major Matthew Schaupp.
Long and Maraquin made it to the championship round all three days. On Friday, they came in second to UCLA. The team came in first Saturday, triumphing over two teams from Berkeley and one team from UCLA. On Sunday, the team came in second to Berkeley. Long and Maraquin accumulated the most points and were crowned the winners of the California Cup.
Although this was the first time Long and Maraquin competed together this semester, the team has worked together at a previous national competition and other competitions.
“We haven’t competed together in a while, but it was like we didn’t even miss a beat,” Long said. “Right when we started working together things started clicking like they used to.”
Leading to the California Cup, Long and Maraquin practiced three days a week at debate team meetings.
“They challenge each other in the right ways,” McHenry said.
Long said the key to doing well in the competition is strong practicing.
“You need to bring your A-game at every practice,” Long said. “Practice like you’re at a competition. We knew that if we competed the way we practice, there’s no way we could lose.”
Before each round, the competitors were presented with a PowerPoint displaying each team, an assigned position, and the room they would compete in. There were two teams on each side of the argument for a total of four teams per round. The teams were given their topic at the competition room and only had 15 minutes to prepare.
The teams went to the competition not knowing what categories, topics or questions would be asked.
“Everything is extempore. I knew many of them prepared for post-election and sure enough the first topic is the electoral college controversy,” Robert Ruiz, debate team coach said.
To prepare, Ruiz gives the team exercises, mock competitions and suggests they keep up with world news.
“He is very good at individual coaching,” said McHenry. “He never tries to change anyone’s style. He finds ways to make your style work.”
Long said teams from UCLA, San Luis Obispo and DC were the strongest competition. Most competing teams were from the west coast.
“The west coast debate circuit is very stiff competition,” Long said. “Everyone is there to win. You can’t afford to slip up in any round.”
Using British Parliamentary Debate rules, the teams are judged on the strength of the debate, response to and quality of the arguments, fairness and their ability to be convincing.
“I think after this tournament they realize they need to read and know more,” Ruiz said. “The practices are our biggest benefit because Kandin and Tanner are pretty much the best team on the west coast, and the others get the opportunity to debate them.”
On Dec. 26, the debate team will send two teams, a judge, and Ruiz to the world championships held in Hauge, home of the United Nation’s World Court. Long and Maraquin will compete together again alongside McHenry and sophomore political science and speech communication major Sarah Osuna.
The California Cup marks the end of the season for the rest of the debate team. They will continue to prepare for Nationals in Spring in hopes to bring La Verne victory for the first time since 2007.
This story was originally published by The Campus Times.