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Feb. 23, 2005
Contact: Scott Harris, debate coach, (785) 864-9878.

Two KU debaters qualify early for National Debate Tournament competition

LAWRENCE -- With significant wins at debate tournaments during the 2004-05 academic year, a team of University of Kansas debaters has received an at-large invitation to attend the National Debate Tournament as one of the top 16 debate teams in the United States. The tournament will be March 25 through 27 at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash.

Matt Cormack, Lincoln, Neb., junior in political science and in economics, and Lindy Simonsen, an Omaha, Neb., junior in pre-education and in women's studies, earned the elite status of first-round national tournament qualifiers by applying to the National Debate Tournament Committee, which chose them based on their season's record. Cormack, the son of Craig and Linda Cormack, is a graduate of Lincoln Southeast High School. Simonsen is the daughter of Roger and Barbara Simonsen and is a graduate of Millard South High School in Omaha.

Cormack and Simonsen are the 86th KU team to qualify for the national tournament. KU teams have qualified for 38 consecutive years, the second longest streak after the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Scott Harris, assistant specialist in communication studies, has coached the team the past 14 years. KU communication studies graduate students assisting Harris this year are doctoral students Jan Hovden, Layton, Utah, and Thomas O'Toole, Glencoe, Mo.; and master's degree students Phillip Samuels, Emporia, and Sarah Topp, Pelican Rapids, Minn.

" This has been an exciting year for KU debate," Harris said. "Matt and Lindy are a talented team and have had an enormously successful season."

The Cormack-Simonsen team won first at a Nov. 5 through 7 tournament at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond; fifth at a Jan. 2 through 5 tournament at University of California-Fullerton; and in the top 10 at tournaments Sept. 25 through 27 at Georgia State University in Atlanta; Nov. 20 through 22 at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Feb. 5 through 7 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Other schools with one or more debate teams that received at-large invitations are Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.; Dartmouth University in Hanover, N.H.; Emory University in Atlanta; University of West Georgia in Carrollton; Northwestern University; University of California-Berkeley; Michigan State University in East Lansing; and the University of Texas at Austin.

Now that the top 16 teams have been chosen for national tournament competition, KU debaters will compete in several tournaments for the 58 remaining spots in nationals, where 74 teams will represent nine regions. KU's region includes schools in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

Since the National Debate Tournament was created in 1946, four KU teams have won nationals and nine others have gone to the equivalent of the Final Four of debate, Harris said. He said that during nearly 60 years of competition, KU ranks among the top five programs along with Harvard, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Emory and the University of Southern California, a better record than any other public university. That rank, Harris explained, is based on number of national championships, most teams participating, most teams qualifying to participate in elimination-round debates and most teams participating in the Final Four of debate.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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