LRCH Debaters Make Arkansas Debate History

Little Rock Central High Seniors DJ Williams and Payton Woods made Arkansas Debate history this weekend when they became the first team in the nation to fully bid to the National Tournament of Champions (TOC) in Lexington, Kentucky by finishing as Semifinalists in the prestigious Grapevine Classic TOC Qualifying Tournament. The National TOC uses a bid system, much like those used in sports tournaments, in which placing high enough in select, national or regional tournaments earns debaters a bid, with at least 2 bids needed to compete.

Williams and Woods advanced to elimination rounds with a perfect 5-0 record and as the top seed against some of the best teams from across the nation.  Woods was awarded Top Speaker in the tournament, with Williams just behind him as Second Speaker. They have also been invited to compete at the University of Michigan Round Robin in October— only eight teams in the nation are extended this invitation.

Earlier this month, Williams and Woods secured the first of the two required bids to the National Tournament of Champions with an outstanding semifinalist finish at the Wake Forest National Early Bird Debate Tournament in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

This is the first Tournament of Champions bid for Central debaters since 2012 when Daniel Schexnayder and Ian Wren secured two bids at qualifying tournaments.  Williams and Woods join a list of only five teams in the history of Arkansas debate to have ever bid to the National Tournament of Champions. That Williams and Woods have done this so early in the season speaks to the kind of year this team is predicted to have. The Tournament of Champions is considered the nation’s most prestigious and competitive American high school debate tournament.


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