KU Debate teams sweep Sunflower Winter Swing tournaments

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Debate team started the new year with a bang, sweeping two Sunflower Winter Swing tournaments hosted by KU and Kansas State University in early January.

The KU duo of Brooklynn Hato, freshman from Overland Park, and AJ Persinger, freshman from Lawrence, defeated the University of Texas in the championship debate to win the first tournament hosted by KU.

The KU team of Ethan Harris, junior from Lawrence, and Jared Spiers, junior from Pittsburg, combined with the KU team of Jacob Wilkus, junior from Lawrence, and Owen Williams, freshman from Lee’s Summit, to close the championship debate of the second tournament hosted at Kansas State.

The KU team of Harris and Spiers won the Sunflower Swings Overall Grand Championship with the most wins over the two tournaments.

Schools competing in the tournaments included Emory University, Kansas State, the University of Houston, the University of Iowa, Missouri State University, Missouri Valley College, the University of Nebraska, the University of Northern Iowa, the University of North Texas, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Texas, the University of Texas-San Antonio, the University of Texas-Dallas and the University of Central Oklahoma.

KU tournament

The team of Hato and Persinger advanced to the elimination rounds with a 5-1 record in preliminary rounds at the KU tournament. In the single elimination debates they advanced over another KU team in the first elimination round, then defeated Emory in the quarterfinals and two different teams from the University of Texas in the semifinals and finals. 

Additional KU teams reached the elimination rounds at the KU tournament:

  • The team of Luna Schultz, sophomore from Houston, with Nargis Suleman, freshman from Leawood, and the pairing of Harris and Spiers advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament.
  • The team of Sean McConnell and Zach Willingham, sophomores from Topeka, and the team of Wilkus and Williams reached the octafinals but were passed by higher-seeded KU teams.
  • The team of Shea Marney, freshman from Topeka, and Hannah Mott, sophomore from Topeka, reached the semifinals of the JV division debating at their first college tournament.

Individual speaker awards were won by Luna Schultz (six), Nargis Suleman (eight) and Jacob Wilkus (10). 

Kansas State tournament

The second Sunflower Swing tournament in Manhattan was also won by KU as two KU teams combined to close out the final round.

The team of Harris and Spiers advanced to the single elimination rounds with a 5-1 record in the preliminary debates and defeated the University of Oklahoma in the quarterfinals and the University of Iowa in the semifinals to advance to the finals.

The KU team of Wilkus and Williams advanced to the elimination rounds with a 4-2 record and defeated the University of Houston in the quarterfinals and a hybrid Oklahoma/Houston team in the semifinals.

Four KU debaters won individual speaker awards at the tournament: Wilkus (six), Spiers (eight), Harris (nine) and Williams (10).  

“It was awesome to have a debate tournament in Lawrence,” said Ned Gidley, assistant debate coach. “This was a tremendous success thanks to the hard work and support of many, both in terms of hosting and squad success.”

Scott Harris, the David B. Pittaway Director of KU Debate, said he was pleased that KU Debate was able to host a tournament on campus and that the hard work of KU debaters and coaches enabled them to win both tournaments.

“We want to thank the Kansas State debaters and coaching staff for their collaboration in making the Sunflower Swing tournaments a reality, and we look forward to it as an annual tradition,” he said.

Tue, 01/23/2024


Scott Harris

Media Contacts

Scott Harris

KU Debate and Department of Communication Studies