LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas debate team finished the regular season around midnight Feb. 8 with strong performances at the Owen L. Coon Memorial Debate Tournament hosted by Northwestern University.
The KU Debate team of senior Nate Martin, of Lansing, and freshman Graham Revare, of Shawnee, advanced to the championship debate, losing a 2-1 split decision to the University of Michigan.
Martin and Revare won 10 debates over four days. In the elimination rounds, they defeated Michigan State University, Georgetown University, the University of Pittsburgh and Northwestern University to advance to the final round.
Martin said the final round against Michigan was “one of the most enjoyable debates of my career.”
While Martin and Revare as a pair made a deep run at the last major tournament of the regular season, KU Debate also flashed its depth at the tournament. Five KU teams entered the tournament, and all five teams advanced to the single elimination rounds. All five KU teams won the first elimination round to advance to the round of 32. KU was the only school to have five teams in the top 32.
The teams of junior Azja Butler, of Lansing, and senior Ross Fitzpatrick, of Leawood, sophomore Jet Semrick, of Prairie Village, and junior Ryan Snow, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and freshmen Zaki Mansoor, of Overland Park, and Will Soper, of Overland Park, all lost close 2-1 split decisions in the round of 32.
The team of sophomores Mickey McMahon, Leawood, and Michael Scott, of Glenview, Illinois, defeated the University of Texas to advance to the final 16 before losing a 2-1 split decision to Harvard University in the octafinals. Every KU loss in the elimination rounds was a split decision.
Four KU students won individual speaker awards at the tournament with Revare finishing eighth, Martin ninth, Butler 14th and Fitzpatrick 24th.
“We are incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication of the KU debaters and coaches that has enabled the squad to carry on the legacy of KU Debate amid the difficulties of virtual debating during a pandemic,” said Scott Harris, the David B. Pittaway Director of Debate at KU.
Since the calendar turned to 2021, KU Debate has competed in five tournaments with two first-place finishes, three second-place finishes, and had three additional teams place in the top 10 of major tournaments.
“The past six weeks have been an incredibly exhausting and rewarding finish to the regular season," said Brett Bricker, co-director and head coach of the program. "We are thrilled with the effort and performance of the students and assistant coaches and are looking forward to the post season tournaments.”
KU expects to compete in several post-season tournaments and hopes to extend its 53-year streak of consecutive years qualifying teams for the National Debate Tournament (NDT) and plans to compete at the Cross Examination Debate Association National Tournament and the American Debate Association National Tournament. Last year KU qualified three teams for the NDT, but the postseason was disrupted by COVID-19 as both the NDT and the CEDA National Championship tournaments were canceled.
The last time the NDT Championship tournament was contested, in 2019, the KU pair of Jacob Hegna and Nate Martin reached the Final Four, and Hegna won the top speaker award.
KU has won the National Debate Tournament six times with titles in 2018, 2009, 1983, 1976, 1970 and 1954.