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University Relations

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April 18, 2006
Contact: Scott Harris, debate coach, (785) 864-9878.

KU debaters end season No. 1 in nation for total points in varsity competitions

LAWRENCE — With its steady, solid yearlong record of wins, the University of Kansas debate team finished No. 1 in the nation based on National Debate Tournament varsity rankings for total points earned in competitions in the 2005-06 season. No other Big 12 Conference university placed in the Top 10.

KU debaters finished with 505 points, ahead of Dartmouth with 497 points and Harvard with 495 points. Varsity rankings are based on the top two senior division teams from a school at eight tournaments.

Other schools in the Top 10 Varsity rankings are Emory University, fourth; Missouri State University, fifth; Whitman College, sixth; Wayne State University, seventh; Michigan State University, eighth; University of California-Berkeley, ninth; and University of Missouri-Kansas City, 10th.

Scott Harris, KU debate coach, said, “Finishing No. 1 in the varsity rankings is an achievement we are proud of. It is a product of the efforts of the entire squad. All of the students made significant contributions toward this award over the course of a very successful season.”

Robin Rowland, chair of KU’s communication studies department, said, “We are very proud of the fact that in debate, KU is not only the top ranked public university but the top ranked university of any kind.”

The No. 1 overall National Debate Tournament total point rankings represent a different achievement than just tournaments won, Harris said. The point rankings began in 1987 and represent cumulative points overall earned by debaters in qualifying tournament rounds. This is the first time KU has finished at the top of the national rankings.

Although KU debaters did not advance beyond the Sweet 16 for either the National Debate Tournament or the Cross Examination Debate Association national competitions, their qualifying match-point wins during the season earned them the No. 1 point-total citation overall.

This year KU debaters qualified for the 39th straight year for the National Debate Tournament in March and placed 19th overall in the 2006 tournament. Michigan State University won the tournament.

KU has sent more teams to the National Debate Tournament than any other college or university, Harris said. By qualifying 39 consecutive years, KU has the second-longest active streak of any college or university in the United States. Debaters from KU have won the national title four times and reached the equivalent of basketball’s Final Four 13 times.

Also at the National Debate Tournament this year, Harris won the George Ziegelmueller Award given to a faculty member who has excelled at coaching and teaching debate.

Harris, assistant specialist in communication studies, has coached the KU debate team the past 15 years. Communication studies graduate students assisting Harris this year are doctoral students Jan Hovden, Lawrence; Michael Souders, Topeka; and Sarah Topp, Pelican Rapids, Minn.; master’s degree student Phillip Samuels, Emporia; and Lindy Simonsen, Omaha, Neb., senior.

Debate team members whose efforts contributed to the No. 1 ranking are listed below by name, hometown, level in school, major, parents and high school attended.

From Overland Park
Lindsey Lathrop, junior in political science, daughter of Robert and Kelly Lathrop; Blue Valley Northwest High School.

From Manhattan
Nate Johnson, junior in political science and pre-law, son of Ronald and Betty Johnson; Manhattan High School.

From Wichita
Brett Bricker, sophomore in mathematics, son of Gary and Norma Bricker; Wichita High School Southeast.

Joel Kasten, freshman in political science, son of Roger and Leah Kasten; Wichita High School Southeast.

Ronnie Press, freshman in political science, son of Arthur and Judith Press; Wichita High School Southeast.

From Silver Lake
Andrew Jennings, sophomore in political science, son of Joe and Kathy Jennings; Silver Lake Junior-Senior High School.

From Topeka
Jon Wright, junior in journalism and mass communications (strategic communications emphasis) and political science, son of Jeffrey and Sonya Wright; Washburn Rural High School.

From Lincoln
Matt Cormack, senior in economics and political science, son of Craig and Linda Cormack; Lincoln Southeast High School.


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