KU debate teams qualify for nationals

LAWRENCE — For the 45th consecutive year, the University of Kansas has qualified for the National Debate Tournament.

This year’s tournament will be hosted March 29-April 2 by Emory University in Atlanta. Three two-person teams will represent KU in the 78-team field at the tournament. The team of senior brothers Sean Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy and the team of Mark Wilkins and Mathew Petersen each received first round at-large invitations to the tournament for each being ranked in the top 16 teams in the country. Junior Melanie Campbell and freshman Amanda Gress became the third KU team to qualify for the tournament when they were selected as an at-large qualifier.

The top 16 teams in the country are selected by a national committee based on seasonlong performance as automatic first-round qualifiers for the tournament. KU has had at least one team selected as a first-round qualifier for each of the past eight seasons. This is the third consecutive year that KU had two teams as automatic qualifiers. This year KU was one of only three schools, along with Northwestern University and Wake Forest University, to have two teams receive first-round invitations.

In order to qualify as a third team to the National Debate Tournament a team must be ranked as one of the six best third teams in the country since only six spots in the 78 team field can go to a third team for a school. This marks the third consecutive year that KU has qualified three teams to the tournament.

Coach Scott Harris said, “We are very proud of all three teams’ accomplishments. They have had an excellent season, and we are looking forward to the National Debate Tournament."

KU won the National Debate Tournament in 2009 and has lost in the Sweet 16 to the eventual winner each of the past two years. Last year KU lost a 4-3 split decision to Northwestern in the Sweet 16.

The state of Kansas will be well-represented in the field as Kansas State University, Emporia University, Wichita State University and Kansas City Kansas Community College have each qualified a team for the tournament.

KU debaters freshman Amanda Gress and sophomore Drew Bonnet won the National Junior Division Debate Tournament for students in their first two years of college competition hosted at Johnson County Community College March 10-12. They went 11-0 at the tournament in capturing the junior division national championship. They defeated the University of North Texas in the championship debate. KU debaters Aaron Miller and Matthew Bevins took fifth place at the tournament. The KU team of Sarah Sears and Meggie Mapes advanced to the elimination rounds and finished in 17th place. Amanda Gress won the first-place individual debater award, while Drew Bonnet won the second-place individual debater award and Matthew Bevins was the fourth-place individual debater.