LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas debate team began the new decade by winning multiple tournaments in the opening days of January. KU debaters traveled across the country from Jan 2-11 with teams competing at five different tournaments. KU students won three of the tournaments, placed second at the fourth tournament and took fifth place at the fifth tournament. Eight KU teams participated in elimination rounds at the tournaments.
The KU duo of Azja Butler, sophomore from Lansing, and Kenny Delph, a senior from Little Rock, Arkansas, competed in two tournaments over six days hosted at the University of California-Berkeley. At the first tournament the pair rolled through the tournament undefeated winning nine consecutive debates, including a win over the University of Southern California in the championship final. They continued their dominant performance by winning the second tournament hosted by Berkeley as well, where they defeated Harvard University in the championship debate. The pair also placed in the top-10 speakers at both tournaments with Butler finishing second at the first tournament and sixth at the second tournament. Delph placed sixth at the first tournament and ninth at the second.
This is the third tournament won by KU’s top team this season. The pair won a tournament hosted at Harvard University in the fall.
At the same time several other KU teams traveled to a pair of tournaments hosted at the University of Texas at Dallas with similar success. The team of Julia Henry, senior from Hutchinson, and Lily Ottinger, junior from Shawnee, won one of the tournaments, defeating the University of Texas-Austin in the championship debate and finished as the runner-up at the other tournament. The pair went 17-3 over the six days in Dallas. They won the Texas Two Step trophy for the team with the best record.
Other KU teams had impressive showings at both tournaments in Texas as well:
- The team of Ross Fitzpatrick, junior from Leawood, and Gabriel Esquivel-Yglesias, junior from Wichita, reached the quarterfinals at the first tournament and the semifinals of the second.
- The team of Michael Scott, freshman from Gleview, Illinois, and Mickey McMahon, freshman from Overland Park, were in the octafinals of the first tournament and were also in the semifinals of the second.
- The team of Carolyn Hassett, junior from Leawood, and Ryan Snow, sophomore from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, reached the octafinals and the quarterfinals.
- The team of Jackson Hoffmann, junior from Wichita, and Jacob Thomas, junior from Shawnee, reached the octafinals of both tournaments before being forced to withdraw due to illness.
- Meanwhile the team of Desiree Hill and Maya McGregory, both freshmen from St. Louis, competed in the Junior Varsity division, reaching the finals and taking second place at both tournaments.
KU debaters also won several individual speaker awards at the tournaments. Ottinger was the first-place individual speaker at both tournaments, and Henry was second at both tournaments. Hassett won a ninth-place speaker award, and Snow a 10th-place award. Esquivel-Yglesias won a sixth-place speaker award, and Fitzpatrick finished 13th. In the junior varsity division, McGregory was first-place speaker at one tournament and third at the other. Hill won second- and fourth-place individual awards.
Meanwhile, KU debaters were also competing at a tournament on the East Coast hosted at Georgetown University. The team of Nicholas Massa, junior from Prairie Village, and Nathan Martin, junior from Lansing, finished in fifth place at the tournament, losing a close 2-1 split decision in the quarterfinals to a team from the University of California-Berkeley that went on to win the tournament. Martin was recognized as the 18th-place individual speaker.
“We are very proud of the ability of our students to compete with the best and brightest debaters anywhere in the country,” said Scott Harris, the David B. Pittaway Director of Debate. “Our ability to succeed at a high level in three regions of the country simultaneously is a reflection of the hard work of our students and coaches. The depth of talent in the program and the work ethic of our students is outstanding.”
This season four different KU teams have won a tournament, and KU has won six tournaments, finished 2nd three times and finished 3rd four times.
KU debaters have no time to rest on their laurels as they will quickly be back on the road again. From Jan. 17-19, the team of Butler/Delph are competing at a round robin invitational at Dartmouth College for the top seven individual teams in the country, while two other KU teams, Martin/Massa and Park/Semrick, will be competing at an invitational round robin at the University of Pittsburgh. The entire squad will swing back into action at a tournament at the University of Texas from Feb. 1-3.