KU debaters, Lawrence alumni prepare for National Debate Tournament

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Debaters from the University of Kansas, and former high school debaters from Lawrence, are set to compete in the biggest debate tournament in the country this weekend.

The 77th National Debate Tournament, widely considered the most prestigious college debate tournament, will be held this weekend in Chantilly, Virginia. The tournament will feature the best 78 college debate pairs from across the country.


The University of Kansas has won the tournament six times, most recently in 2018. They will bring three teams to this year’s contest. 

The teams of Mickey McMahon/Michael Scott and Jimin Park/Jet Semrick received first-round at-large bids to the tournament, placing them as two of the top 16 teams in the country. 

Contributed photo Mickey McMahon and Michael Scott
Contributed photo Jimin Park and Jet Semrick
Contributed photo Jiyoon Park and John Marshall

The pair of Jiyoon Park/John Marshall will join their teammates at the NDT as second-round at-large bid recipients. Both debaters are freshmen, and Marshall is a graduate of Free State High School, where he and partner Serena Rupp won a national title last spring. 

Rupp and another former high school debater from Lawrence will be competing this weekend as well. Rupp will be competing with Emory University alongside partner Clara Conry. 

Jake Shew, a Lawrence High School alum, will attend the tournament with Missouri State University and partner Connor Burns. 

“I’m really excited to get the opportunity to attend the NDT, especially since I didn’t really expect to be a competitor my first year,” Shew said. “I’m happy I got so many chances to get experience with the NDT and college debate format, and I’m excited to see if I can put that new knowledge into practice and just have fun along the way.”

Contributed Photo John Marshall and Serena Rupp hold their first place prize from the Montgomery Bell Academy Big Red Round Robin Debate Tournament, held in March 2022.
August Rudisell / Lawrence Times Jake Shew speaks at Lawrence High School’s graduation in May 2022.

The tournament will begin Friday morning, and a champion will be crowned Monday night after four full days of debate. 

KU’s team arrived safely in Virginia on Thursday, according to a tweet from their account. Follow @KansasDebate for updates.

KU’s coaching staff is led by Brett Bricker, associate director of Kansas Debate, along with assistant coaches Azja Butler, Nathan Davis, Jyleesa Hampton, Derek Hilligoss, Ned Gidley, Max Reese, Jesse Smith and Alaina Walberg, according to a news release from KU. Scott Harris is the David B. Pittaway Director of the debate program.

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Cuyler Dunn (he/him), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a student at the University of Kansas School of Journalism. He is a graduate of Lawrence High School where he was the editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, The Budget, and was named the 2022 Kansas High School Journalist of the Year. Read more of this work for the Times here.

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