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| the history of wake forest
remember. John Graham and I had lost several rounds early in the
tournament, and we had to defeat a good Harvard team in the
eighth and last preliminary round in order to qualify for the elimi-
nation rounds. (Actually, we had enjoyed an almost unbroken series
of victories over Harvard teams over a two year period. In contrast,
one nemesis whom we never mastered was the MIT team headed
by Larry Summers, the future Treasury secretary.) In octo-finals,
we were matched against a strong team from Northwestern and
managed to emerge victorious on a 3–2 decision of the five judges.
Unfortunately, we did not fare so well in our quarter-final matchup
against the University of Kansas.
Wake teams continued to do well for the rest of the decade. The
most successful Wake team of this period was composed of John
Graham and Ross Smith. John and Ross qualified for the national
tournament in 1977, but their greatest success would come in the
1977–78 season. They reached the final round of the highly regarded
“Heart of America” tournament. After receiving a first round bid
to the NDT, they completed the preliminary rounds as the top
seed, with a 7–1 round. They too, however, met their downfall in
the quarter-finals, losing a very close decision to a team from the
University of Redlands, headed by Mark Fabiani (who would go on
to be personal counsel to President Bill Clinton).
Many Wake debaters of this period went on to have outstand-
ing careers in law, government, or academia, but for Ross Smith
and me, the appeal of debate proved inescapable. I am entering my
thirtieth year as debate coach at the University of Kentucky. Ross,
though, enjoyed even greater success as the Wake Forest head de-
bate coach. Starting in the early 1980s, and in collaboration with
Allan Louden, Ross was instrumental in making Wake debate the
powerhouse that it is today.
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