KU Debate wins National Sweepstakes Championship

Thursday, April 11, 2019

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas debate squad won the National Sweepstakes Championship as the top program in the country for the 2018-19 season from the Cross Examination Debate Association. The top ranking is based on points accumulated by teams at tournaments throughout the season. 

This is the first time KU has won the overall national CEDA points championship. KU also received the Founders Award from the CEDA organization for being the top program in the country in total points over the past 20 years.

“This award is special because it is a reflection of the depth of talent and the hard work of the entire debate squad,” said Scott Harris, the David B. Pittaway Director of Debate. “Every member of the team contributed to this award, and this was a remarkable season.”

KU debaters competed in 591 debates at 21 tournaments across the country over the course of the season, and 21 different KU debaters advanced to the elimination rounds at a tournament. 

Students who represented KU this season include Brenda Alvarez, Topeka; Ethan Bastian, of West Jordan, Utah; Azja Butler, of Leavenworth; Kyndall Delph, of Little Rock, Arkansas; Gabriel Esquivel-Yglesias, of Wichita; Ross Fitzpatrick, of Leawood; Chris Fry, of Overland Park; Carolyn Hassett, of Leawood; Jacob Hegna, of Overland Park; Julia Henry, of Hutchinson; Jackson Hoffman, of Wichita; Ye Joo Lee, of Halstead; Nate Martin, of Lansing; Nick Massa, of Prairie Village; Lindsay McFadyen, of Chicago; Lily Ottinger, of Shawnee; Lexi Rawlings, of Topeka; Nico Rodriguez, of Prairie Village; Jackson Ross, of Overland Park; Ryan Snow, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado; Jacob Thomas, of Shawnee, and Nick Velo, of Emporia. 

The season included many highlights:

  • The KU team of Azja Butler and Kyndall Delph finished as the national runners-up at the Cross Examination Debate Association National Championship Tournament. 
  • The team of Jacob Hegna and Nathan Martin took third place at the National Debate Tournament, and KU extended its streak of qualifying for the National Debate Tournament to 52 consecutive years. 
  • The KU teams of Nick Massa and Chris Fry, Julia Henry and Gabriel Esquivel-Yglesias, and Lily Ottinger and Jackson Hoffmann combined to close out the championship debates and bring home both first- and second-place trophies at two tournaments in Dallas. Massa and Fry also won a tournament in Oklahoma. 
  • Brenda Alvarez and Lexi Rawlings went undefeated, winning back-to-back tournament championships in Dallas. 
  • The team of Carolyn Hassett and Nico Rodriguez and the team of Brenda Alvarez and Ryan Snow both reached the semifinals of the Mid America Championship tournament. 
  • Jacob Thomas and Ryan Snow took third place at the George Pflaum Debate Tournament. 
  • Jacob Hegna and Nate Martin took third place at a tournament at California State University, Fullerton.
  • The Cross Examination Debate Association recognized Kyndall Delph and Julia Henry as members of the All American Debate team and Jacob Hegna as a National Debate Scholar Summa Cum Laude. Julia Henry and Christopher Fry were recognized as National Scholars as well.

“We want to thank all of the students and coaches for their hard work that made this success possible,” said Brett Bricker, associate director of debate.

The KU coaching staff consists of Harris, Bricker and Assistant Coaches Benton Bajorek, Allie Chase, Jyleesa Hampton, Jacob Justice, Sean Kennedy, Talya Slaw and Alaina Walberg. Other individuals who provided coaching assistance to the squad included Ian Beier, Christopher Carey, Will Katz, Kyle Klucas and Lexi Oatman.


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