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University Relations

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March 16, 2006
Contact: Scott Harris, debate coach, (785) 864-9878.

KU’s winning debaters qualify 39th straight year for National Debate Tournament

LAWRENCE — For the 39th straight year, University of Kansas debaters have qualified for the National Debate Tournament competition. Two teams will represent KU at the matches to be held March 24-27 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

KU has sent more teams to the National Debate Tournament than any other college or university, according to Scott Harris, KU debate coach. 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 Final Four 13 times.

This year’s competitors will be the team of Matt Cormack, Lincoln, Neb., senior, and Andrew Jennings, Silver Lake sophomore; and the team of Brett Bricker, Wichita junior, and Lindsey Lathrop, Overland Park junior.

Cormack and Jennings earned the elite status of first-round national tournament qualifiers, reserved for the top 16 two-person teams in the United States, by applying to the National Debate Tournament Committee, which chose them based on their season record.

Bricker and Lathrop qualified for nationals at the Feb. 24-26 district tournament at Kansas City Kansas Community College. The pair was one of nine teams chosen from 25 from schools in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana.

The National Debate Tournament is just one of several post-season tournaments that highlight the winning record of KU debaters during the 2005-06 season.

KU debaters, currently ranked third nationally in the Cross Examination Debate Association, will compete for team and individual awards at the national CEDA tournament March 31-April 5 in Dallas, Texas.

Two KU debate teams shared first place at the National Junior Division Debate Tournament, which took place March 11-13 at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park. NJDDT is the national championship tournament for students who have debated two years or less in college.

The teams of Bricker and Lathrop and of Jennings and Nate Johnson, Manhattan junior, were declared co-champions after they met in the final round. Both teams, undefeated in preliminary rounds, did not lose a single round at the tournament. The team of Joel Kasten and Ronnie Press, both Wichita freshmen, placed fifth, and another KU freshman team, J.D. Smith, Hutchinson, and Chris Thomas, Overland Park, placed ninth.

Jennings was recognized as the top individual speaker, with other individual NJDDT honors going to Kasten, third; Johnson, fourth; Bricker, sixth; and Lathrop, seventh.

At the National Novice Debate Championships held March 4-6 at Northwestern University, the Kasten-Press pair placed third. Last year for the first time in KU history, the team of Bricker and Lathrop in their first year of competition won the NNDC tournament.

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 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.

Chris Thomas, freshman in political science, son of Denise Stock; Blue Valley Northwest High School.

From Hutchinson
J.D. Smith, freshman in pre-law, son of Douglas and Shannon Smith; Buhler 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 Lincoln
Matt Cormack, senior in economics and political science, son of Craig and Linda Cormack; Lincoln Southeast High School.


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. | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045