Debate Team Jumps into Season Strong in the Polls

The UT Dallas Debate Team enters the season’s midpoint as one of the nation’s top programs, placing in the top 20 in two separate ranking systems.

Leading the program are seniors Wes Dwyer and Collin Roark, who finished the fall semester ranked as the 19th debate team nationally in the Gannon coaches’ poll, a debate ranking system created by Seth Gannon. Gannon is a research assistant at Wake Forest University and a former winner of the National Debate Tournament.

Dwyer and Roark were also ranked 13th in the Hanson system, a ranking system created by Dr. Jim Hanson, director of debate at Whitman College.

CHris Burk

Chris Burk

The UT Dallas duo competed at tournaments hosted by Harvard University, Georgia State University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and reached the elimination rounds at each tournament. Their overall record for the semester was 25 wins and nine losses

“Wes and Collin have performed well against the toughest competition in the country. The entire squad is proud of our seniors and we feel they deserve to be highly ranked,” said Chris Burk, director of debate and political science lecturer at UT Dallas.

This semester is not the first time that Dwyer and Roark have made a mark on the national intercollegiate debate circuit. Dwyer, an economics major, and Roark, who studies political science, were partners two years ago and finished the season with four wins at the National Debate Tournament, the best showing for any sophomore-sophomore pair.

Younger members of the UT Dallas team have also excelled during the semester. Ted Kontopolous and Samantha Varney finished tied for fifth in the freshman division at their first college tournament at the University of Kentucky in October.

“The coaches have been impressed with all of our incoming recruits this season. We have a bright set of debaters who arrive with a great deal of experience in high school debate. They are all quickly learning how to adjust to college debate and college classes. I think this cohort has a bright future,” said Burk.

The UT Dallas team will host its annual intercollegiate debate tournament on the UT Dallas campus Jan. 7-9. The tournament is the largest regular-season college debate tournament held in the region, with approximately 100 teams from across the country competing.

The season, which began in September, will conclude in late March with the 66th annual National Debate Tournament, hosted by Emory University in Atlanta. UT Dallas hosted the national event last season.

Wes Dwyer


Collin Roark

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].