KU Debate finishes second at National Debate Tournament

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas Debate Team members Graham Revare, junior from Shawnee, and William Soper, senior from Bucyrus, took second place in the country at the 78th National Debate Tournament, held from April 4 to 9 at Emory University in Atlanta. They advanced to the championship debate, losing to this year’s national champions from the University of Michigan.

The KU team of sophomores John Marshall, from Lawrence, and Jiyoon Park, from Topeka, took fifth place at the NDT as they reached the Elite Eight, but the two KU teams met each other in the quarterfinals.

This was the 20th Final Four appearance for KU Debate and the eighth time KU has advanced to the championship debate. KU has won the NDT six times. KU has advanced to the Final Four in six of the last eight seasons.

“I am so appreciative of the hard work, ethics, and commitment of all of the debaters,” said Brett Bricker, head coach of KU Debate. “It was an amazing run at the tournament. I was very pleased with the many KU alumni who came to support us at the tournament. The assistant coaches did an incredible job helping in so many ways to help the teams succeed at the tournament.”

The National Debate Tournament is a four-day tournament in which the top 80 teams in the country compete in eight preliminary debates alternating debating affirmative and negative every two debates. The top 29 teams at the tournament then qualify for a single elimination bracket. Each preliminary round has three judges, and each elimination round has five judges. This year’s topic was “Resolved: The United States should restrict its nuclear forces in one or more of the following ways: adopting a nuclear no first use policy, eliminating one or more legs of its nuclear triad; disarming its nuclear forces.”

Graham Revare and William Soper took second place in the country at the 78th National Debate Tournament.

Revare and Soper went 7-1 in their preliminary debates and qualified for the elimination rounds as the second seed. They started off with wins over the University of Wyoming, the University of Minnesota, the University of Iowa, Harvard University and the top-ranked team in the country from Emory University before losing a 2-1 split decision to the third-ranked team in the country from the University of Texas. They finished their preliminary run with wins over Wichita State University and a second team from Emory University. In the elimination rounds they had a bye through the first elimination round to advance to the Sweet 16. They defeated Binghamton on the negative on a 5-0 decision in octafinals and advanced over their teammates from KU in the Elite Eight to advance to the Final Four. In the semifinals they defeated Emory University on the affirmative on a 3-2 decision. Revare won the eighth-place individual speaker award at the tournament, and Soper was the ninth-place speaker. They were the ninth-ranked team in the country coming into the tournament.

“It has been an incredible four-year ride with the KU debate team. I can’t think of a better group of people to have enjoyed this journey with,” Soper said.

John Marshall and Jiyoon Park took fifth place at the National Debate Tournament.

Marshall and Park went 5-3 in the preliminary rounds and advanced to the elimination rounds as the 23rd seed. They lost their opening debate to Northwestern University but then won five debates in a row over Gonzaga University, the University of California-Davis, the University of Minnesota, Harvard University and Emory University. They lost their last two preliminary round debates to the top-ranked team in the country from Emory University and to Georgetown University. In the first elimination round they defeated the 7 seed from Georgetown University on a 5-0 decision. In the Sweet 16 they defeated the 10 seed from the University of Kentucky on a 3-2 decision. The two KU teams met each other in the quarterfinals, and the coaching staff advanced the higher-seeded team at the tournament. Marshall was the 18th individual speaker at the tournament. They shifted to helping their teammates prepare for debating in the semis and finals. They were the eighth-ranked team in the country coming into the tournament.

Jacob Wilkus and Owen Williams finished 4-4 in the preliminary rounds of the National Debate Tournament.

The KU team of Jacob Wilkus, junior from Lawrence, with Owen Williams, freshman from Lee’s Summit, finished 4-4 in the preliminary rounds. They lost their opening debate to Wake Forest University but bounced back with wins over the Naval Academy and Dartmouth College. They lost back-to-back debates to a different Dartmouth Team and the University of Kentucky. They then beat teams from Samford University and the University of Texas-Dallas to get to 4-3 and needed one more win to qualify for the elimination rounds. However, they were then pulled up in the bracket to debate California State University-Long Beach, the fifth-ranked team in the country.

“I am so incredibly proud of the teams and the coaches for all of the hard work that allowed the program to have so much success,” said Scott Harris, the David B. Pittaway Director of the KU Debate program. “We are so grateful to the Department of Communication Studies, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the Student Senate and the alumni whose financial support allows us to compete at the highest level of college policy debate. KU Debate is truly ‘a tradition unlike any other.’”

Tue, 04/09/2024


Scott Harris

Media Contacts

Scott Harris

KU Debate and Department of Communication Studies