The West Virginia University Debate Team is challenging itself with several high-level matchups this season as its members gain competitive experience.

The team, sponsored by the Department of Political Science in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, has both veteran and novice debaters, several of whom will make their debate debut this fall.

Returning senior varsity debaters include Samantha Godbey, an international studies major from Walton; Kayden Skinner, a political science student and New Martinsville native; Emily Renzelli, a political science and philosophy double major from Bridgeport; and Michael Stark, a political science and economics student from Charleston.

Juniors Mallory Duley, a public relations major from Morgantown, and Katie Santmyer, a criminology and investigations major from Moundsville, have returned and will compete in the junior varsity division.

New team members are Marleah Whipkey, a medical technology major from New Martinsville; Frank Annie, a criminology and investigations student from Charleston; and Ryan Lynch, a political science major from Morgantown.

This seasons debate topic is U.S. policy toward Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Authority.

The team is coached by Neil Berch, an associate professor of political science at WVU .

Berch hopes that by entering the students in divisions which challenge their current abilities, they will have the opportunity to compete against more experienced debaters, leading to future success.

Team members have already been traveling the East Coast, attending debate tournaments at Kings College, the University of Vermont, Towson University, the University of Richmond and the U.S. Military Academy.

In the coming weeks, they will travel to Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Liberty University, Wake Forest University and the University of Rochester.