LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Debate team of juniors Mickey McMahon, Leawood, and Michael Scott, Glenview, Illinois, advanced to the Final Four at the 76th National Debate Tournament hosted at James Madison University April 1-5. The duo is the 19th KU team to advance to the semifinal round of the National Debate Tournament. This is the third consecutive year that KU has placed a team in the Final Four and the fifth time in the past six seasons.
McMahon and Scott compiled a 7-1 record over three days of competition and qualified for the elimination rounds as the No. 4 seed. They began the tournament with three straight wins over California State University at Fullerton, the University of Wyoming and Michigan State University before losing to the second-ranked team in the country from Northwestern University. They then defeated Emory University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley to qualify for the single-elimination rounds. In the first elimination round they defeated Michigan State University. In the Sweet 16 they beat a team from the University of Michigan. In the Elite Eight they advanced over Harvard University. In the Final Four they lost to the top-ranked team in the country from the University of Michigan.
Dartmouth and Michigan met for the championship for the second consecutive year, and Dartmouth won on a 3-2 split decision, earning its second straight national championship.
The KU pair also received individual speaker awards as Scott was the 15th speaker and McMahon the 17th.
Two other KU teams had excellent runs at the NDT as both qualified for the single-elimination rounds with 5-3 records in the preliminary rounds. This was the second consecutive year that KU qualified three teams for the elimination rounds and only the third time in the history of the program that has happened. The University of Michigan and Emory University were the only other schools to qualify three teams for the elimination rounds.
The team of Graham Revare, sophomore from Shawnee, and Ryan Snow, senior from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, won debates against Weber State University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Central Oklahoma, the University of Michigan and Trinity University. In the single-elimination rounds they lost to the second-seeded team from Emory University.
The team of Jimin Park, junior from Topeka, and Jet Semrick, junior from Prairie Village, won debates over Boston College, George Mason University, Western Washington University, Liberty University and the University of Michigan. In the single-elimination rounds they lost to a team from the University of Michigan.
“We could not be prouder of the performance of our teams,” said Brett Bricker, associate director of KU Debate. “It was a tremendous national championship performance to cap off a great season.”
The assistant coaches who worked with the program this year were Benton Bajorek, Allie Chase, Nathan Davis, Edward Gidley, Jyleesa Hampton, Julia Henry, Derek Hilligoss, Jesse Smith, Alaina Walberg and Azja Butler, who was the top speaker and a semifinalist at last year’s NDT.
“I want to thank the assistant coaches and the entire squad for the hard work that led to the success of our teams competing at the NDT,” said Scott Harris, the David Pittaway Director of KU Debate. “It was a product of the effort of all of the people in the program.”
After the semifinals loss the KU squad gathered to watch the men’s basketball team stage its historic comeback, winning its sixth overall national championship — four in the NCAA Tournament and two in the Helms national championships. KU debate has also won six national championships at the NDT, with its last championship coming in 2018.
“Congratulations to Coach Self, the coaching staff, and the players on an incredible performance,” Harris said. “This was a great day to be a Jayhawk.”