LAWRENCE — The 2014-15 KU Debate team ended the regular season ranked No. 1 in the country in the National Debate Tournament varsity debate rankings. It is the third time in the past 10 years that KU has won the national varsity rankings championship. This year the team has carried that success into the postseason and collected several prestigious individual and team awards at the Cross Examination Debate Association National Tournament, which was hosted at Wichita State University from March 20-23.
Among the winners was Jyleesa Hampton, Overland Park, who received the Johnston Award as the National Debater of the Year.
“Jyleesa is an outstanding debater and an inspiration and role model for the entire debate community,” said Scott Harris, the David Pittaway Director of Debate at KU.
Harris was recognized with the Brownlee Award as the National Debate Coach of the Year. Wichita State University head coach Jeff Jarman, in presenting the award, said, “Scott Harris is the best debate coach in the country, and it is about time we recognized him with the Brownlee Award.”
KU teams had an impressive showing at the CEDA National Tournament, in which 116 teams from across the country competed for the championship. The team of Jyleesa Hampton and Quaram Robinson, Round Rock, Texas, went undefeated through eight preliminary rounds and advanced to the elimination rounds as the top seed at the tournament. In elimination rounds they defeated the U.S. Military Academy, the University of Texas-Dallas and the University of West Georgia to reach the Final Four. They defeated the University of Oklahoma in the semifinals to advance to the finals before falling on a 6-3 split decision to Towson State University in the championship debate. Hampton was the second-place individual speaker at the tournament, and Robinson was the fifth-place speaker.
Four other KU teams advanced to the elimination rounds at the tournament. The team of Chris Carey, Westwood Hills, and Nick Khatri, Edina, Minnesota, reached the Sweet 16 before losing to the City University of New York. The teams of Ciera Foreman, Overland Park, and Hunter Goh, Bakersfield, California; and Amit Bhatla, Lenexa, and Madison Cook, Shawnee, advanced to the round of 32. In the preliminary rounds Bhatla-Cook had a win over the Towson team that won the tournament while Foreman-Goh had a win over the Oklahoma team that reached the Final Four. The KU team of Bradley Harris, Lawrence, and Mikaela Wefald, Manhattan, also advanced to the elimination rounds at the tournament.
“We are very proud of the entire squad for a tremendous season and a great showing at the CEDA National Tournament,” said Sean Kennedy, assistant debate coach.
The previous weekend the team of Bhatla-Cook won the National Junior Division Debate Tournament, a national championship tournament for debaters in their first two years of college debate, hosted at Johnson County Community College. It was the second consecutive year that Bhatla-Cook won the JV National Championship tournament and the eighth time KU debaters have won the NJDDT in the past 11 years. The KU team of Will Katz, Topeka, and Dylan Robb, Englewood, Colorado, took third place at the tournament.
Hampton and Carey were both named to the All American Debate Team. Eleven members of the KU Debate team were named National Debate Scholars as members of the all-academic team: Aaron Miller, Overland Park, summa cum laude; Harris, Carey, Goh, Wefald and Bhatla, magna cum laude; Jared Nelson, Overland Park; Megan Mapes, Topeka, Sean Duff, Iowa City, and Hampton, cum laude; and Foreman, Overland Park, honorable mention.
KU will end its season at the National Debate Tournament hosted at the University of Iowa from April 3-6. Three KU teams have qualified to compete at the NDT in the 78-team field: Hampton-Robinson, Carey-Khatri and Foreman-Goh. The only other schools to qualify three teams for the field are Emory University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Michigan.
It is the 48th consecutive year that KU has qualified teams for the National Debate Tournament. KU has won the National Debate Tournament five times and had 14 teams advance to the Final Four.