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KU Debate team ends regular season rated No. 1

Thursday, February 08, 2018

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas seniors Quaram Robinson and Will Katz ended the regular season as the top-ranked individual team in the country in the final College Debate Ratings.

Robinson, of Round Rock, Texas, and Katz, of Topeka, competed at five major national tournaments and won three tournament championships, along with a second-place finish and a fifth-place finish. They compiled a record of 21 wins and two losses in the elimination rounds of the tournaments and an overall record of 55 wins and eight losses.

Scott Harris, the David B. Pittaway Director of Debate, said it was “the best regular season performance by a KU team in my 28 years directing the program.”

The final major tournament of the regular season took place Feb. 3-6 at the University of Texas-Austin. Katz and Robinson won 10 debates at the tournament and advanced to the championship debate before losing a 2-1 split decision to second-ranked Harvard. The KU pair defeated the third-ranked University of Nevada-Las Vegas in the semifinals of the tournament, fifth-ranked Kentucky in the quarterfinals, a different Harvard team ranked 12th in the country in the octafinals and the 19th-ranked team from the University of Georgia in the round of 32. More than 120 teams from around the country competed in the tournament.

A second KU team, junior Jacob Hegna, Overland Park, and freshman Nate Martin, Lansing, advanced to the elimination rounds at the tournament. They reached the elimination rounds at all seven tournaments they competed at this season and finished as the 27th-ranked team in the national standings. KU Assistant Coach Jyleesa Hampton won the award for the top-rated individual judge at the tournament.

The KU debate squad as a whole is also currently ranked second in the country in the NDT Varsity point rankings. The top-five programs are, in order, Wake Forest, KU, Emory University, the University of Michigan and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. The rankings are based on points earned by the squad as a whole at tournaments over the course of the season.

The KU coaching staff consists of Director Scott Harris, Associate Director Brett Bricker and Assistant Coaches Benton Bajorek, Brendon Bankey, Ian Beier, Alexandria Chase, Michael Eisenstadt, Jacob Justice, Jyleesa Hampton and Sean Kennedy.

Several KU teams had excellent performances during the spring semester. At a two-tournament swing in January hosted by the University of Texas-Dallas, the team of junior Chris Fry, Overland Park, and freshman Nick Massa, Prairie Village, won one tournament and finished second at the other. They also reached the semifinals at a tournament hosted by Wichita State University. They ended the regular season ranked 40th in the national rankings.

The KU team of sophomores Saif Bajwa, Overland Park, and Julia Henry, Hutchinson, was the second-place sweepstakes winner for combined performance over the two tournaments at the University of Texas at Dallas, advanced to the quarterfinals at Wichita State and the University of Texas-Dallas, and advanced to the elimination rounds at multiple tournaments.

The duo of freshman Ross Fitzpatrick, Leawood, and freshman Jack Ross, Overland Park, reached the elimination rounds at five tournaments and advanced to the quarterfinals at three tournaments.

The team of sophomores Kyndall Delph, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Spencer Sosalla-Bahr, Topeka, began debating in the second semester and reached the elimination rounds at two tournaments, including advancing to the quarterfinals at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Freshmen Lily Ottinger, Shawnee, and Carolyn Hassett, Leawood, reached the quarterfinals at the University of Texas-Dallas.

Freshman Ethan Bastian, West Jordan, Utah, and junior Tyler Woodcock, Lansing, reached the elimination rounds at Wichita State University.

“The squad had an excellent regular season, and we are excited about both the present and future of the program,” said Brett Bricker, associate director of debate. “We are also grateful for the support of the university, the College of Arts & Sciences, the communication studies department, the Student Senate and alumni that enable us to travel so many students.”

“The successful season is a product of the hard work of the students as well as the efforts of Dr. Bricker and the assistant coaches who make great sacrifices as full-time graduate students to work with the debaters,” Harris said. “While all of the coaches have made significant contributions, I want to give particular credit to Brendon Bankey, Allie Chase, Jyleesa Hampton and Sean Kennedy for their contributions to the success of the team of Quaram Robinson and Will Katz.”

With the regular season completed, the debate team will turn its attention to several postseason tournaments. The National Debate Tournament is March 23-26 at Wichita State University. KU will seek to extend its streak of 50 consecutive years qualifying for the National Debate Tournament. KU will also have teams competing at the Cross Examination Debate Association championship tournament March 16-19 at the University of Puget Sound, the American Debate Association championship tournament March 10-12 in Dallas and the National Junior Division Debate Tournament March 10-12, hosted by Johnson County Community College.

KU debaters who contributed to this year’s ranking:




Julia Henry, sophomore


Nate Martin, freshman

Tyler Woodcock, junior


Kara Fort, sophomore


Ross Fitzpatrick, freshman

Carolyn Hassett, freshman

Overland Park

Saif Bajwa, sophomore

Chris Fry, junior

Jacob Hegna, junior

Jackson Ross, freshman

Lainey Schrag, junior

Prairie Village

Nick Massa, freshman


Lilly Ottinger, freshman

Jake Thomas, sophomore


Will Katz, senior

Spencer Sosalla-Bahr, sophomore


Gabriel Esquivel-Yglesias, freshman




Kyndall Delph, Little Rock sophomore


Lindsay McFadyen, Chicago

Jon Mantis, Glenbrook, Illinois


Quaram Robinson, Round Rock senior


Ethan Bastian, West Jordan freshman.


Photo: Will Katz and Quaram Robinson, champions of the Franklin R. Shirley Classic Debate Tournament, hosted by Wake Forest University.