March 19, 2004

Contact: Scott Harris, debate coach, (785) 864-9878.

KU debate teams qualify for national tournament for 37th straight year

LAWRENCE -- For the 37th straight year, KU debate teams have qualified for the National Debate Tournament after placing third in district competitions held Feb. 27 and 28 at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

The National Debate Tournament will be April 1 through 5 at Catholic University, Washington, D.C., where 74 teams from nine regions will compete. Donn Parson, KU professor of communication studies, has been director of the tournament since 1993, and this will be his 12th and final year as tournament director. Scott Harris has been the KU debate coach the past 13 years.

Eight teams qualified from the Oklahoma regional, including two from KU and one each from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of North Texas at Denton, the University of Missouri-Columbia, Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University and the University of Oklahoma. An individual school can qualify up to two teams through the district process.

Members of the two qualifying KU teams are Matthew Cormack, Lincoln, Neb., sophomore, and Lindy Simonsen, Omaha, Neb., sophomore; and Jordan Tinsley, Little Rock, Ark., senior, and Todd Jordan, Lenexa senior. In addition to these students, two KU freshmen, Michael Bretches of Hutchinson and Jonathan Wright of Topeka, will compete at the Cross Examination Debate Association national championship tournament hosted March 18 through 22 by the University of Kentucky at Louisville.

KU's debate team ranks fifth in the nation. Rankings are based on the top two senior-division teams from a school at eight tournaments. Schools ahead of KU are top-ranked University of California-Berkeley followed by Emory University in Atlanta, the University of Texas at Austin and Michigan State University at East Lansing. Harvard University and Dartmouth University trail KU in sixth and seventh place.

By qualifying the past 37 years for the national debate competition, KU is second only to the University of Southern California, with 42. Georgetown University is third, with 35, and Harvard fourth, at 34. In addition, KU has qualified a total of 52 times, second only to USC's 53. Other top qualifiers are Dartmouth, with 51, and Harvard, with 50. KU has won the national title four times. The national contests have been held for 58 years.

On March 15, the KU team of Cormack and Simonsen won the National Junior Division Debate Tournament, hosted by Johnson County Community College in Overland Park. The duo also tied for second place individual speakers at the tournament, which is the national championship for students in their first two years of college debate. The Bretches-Wright team placed ninth. KU last won the NJDDT championship in 1996.

Names of KU student debaters, their hometowns, level in school, majors, parents' names and high schools are:

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Lenexa
Todd A. Jordan, senior in history, son of Terry and Marilyn Jordan; Shawnee Mission West High School graduate.

RENO COUNTY
From Hutchinson
Michael Bretches, freshman in pre-law, son of Ron Bretches; Hutchinson Senior High School graduate.

SHAWNEE COUNTY
From Topeka
Jonathan Wright, freshman in pre-journalism, son of Jeffrey and Sonya Wright; Washburn Rural High School graduate.

ARKANSAS
From Little Rock
Jordan Tinsley, senior in English, son of Ed and Paula Tinsley; Little Rock Central High School graduate.

NEBRASKA
From Lincoln
Matthew Travis Cormack, sophomore in economics, son of Craig and Linda Cormack; Southeast High School graduate.

From Omaha
Lindy Simonsen, sophomore in pre-secondary education, daughter of Roger and Barbara Simonsen; Millard South High School graduate.

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