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Jan. 9, 2006
Contact: Scott Harris, debate coach, (785) 864-9878.

KU debate team to compete Jan. 21-22 in prestigous Dartmouth tournament

LAWRENCE -- For the first time since 1999, a University of Kansas debate team will compete in the prestigious Herbert L. James Debates Jan. 21-22 at Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H. The select invitational tournament, now in its 50th year, is limited to the top seven teams in the United States, according to Scott Harris, KU debate coach.

KU debaters Matt Cormack, Lincoln, Neb., senior, and Andrew Jennings, Silver Lake sophomore, will be competing with teams from Dartmouth College, Emory University, Harvard College, Michigan State University, Northwestern University and the University of California at Berkeley.

Cormack and Jennings earned an invitation to the Dartmouth event based on their performance at intercollegiate tournaments during the fall 2005 semester. Cormack, a political science and economics major, is the son of Craig and Linda Cormack and a graduate of Lincoln Southeast High School. Jennings, a political science major, is the son of Kathy Jennings and a graduate of Silver Lake Junior-Senior High School.

Cormack and Jennings took first place Sept. 17-19 in a field of 45 teams at the Walter Ulrich Debate Tournament at the University of Northern Iowa and third place out of 65 teams Oct. 29-31 at the Harvard College Debate Tournament. They finished in the top 10 of 106 teams Sept. 24-26 at the Georgia State University tournament and the top 10 of 119 at the Henry Clay Debates Oct. 8-10 at the University of Kentucky.

“Being invited to the Dartmouth tournament is one of the highest honors a debate team can receive,” Harris said. “It was one of our goals for the season and is a real testament to Matt and Andrew's talent and work ethic. I am very proud of them. Their success is also a tribute to the commitment and contributions of many of our alumni including the Gidley Scholarship program. Andrew's rapid rise to the top of the national debate rankings is evidence of the success of this program.”

Last year, Jennings was the first recipient of the new Gidley scholarship awarded to outstanding first-year debaters at KU. Mark Gidley, a former National Debate Champion at KU in 1983, began the J. Mark Gidley and Bridget O. Gidley Debate scholarship to help bring talented students to the KU program.

This year's Gidley scholars are Joel Kasten and Ronnie Press, both Wichita freshmen majoring in political science and graduates of Wichita High School Southeast. Kasten is the son of Roger and Leah Kasten, and Press is the son of Arthur and Judith Press, all of Wichita. Harris said their first season triumphs included a second-place finish at the Oct. 1-3 Virginia Craig Debate Tournament hosted by Missouri State University.

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