KU debate duo finishes in top 8 of national tournament; second duo reaches top 16

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KU Debate’s duo of Mickey McMahon and Michael Scott advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Debate Tournament, placing them as one of the top 8 teams in the country.

McMahon and Scott finished the preliminary rounds with a 6-2 record — defeating the second- and fifth-ranked teams in the country — to qualify as the 7 seed for the bracket rounds, which featured the top 32 teams.


Their tournament finished in the final eight, with a 7-0 loss to the eventual champions from Wake Forest. 

McMahon/Scott also made a deep run to the semifinals at last year’s tournament. KU has sent debaters to the final eight in nearly every NDT since 2016, including winning the tournament in 2018. KU has 6 NDT championships. 

Scott was named the 10th best individual speaker in the nation, and teammate McMahon was close behind, winning 12th best speaker.

Fellow Jayhawk debaters Jimin Park and Jet Semrick also advanced to the bracket rounds of the tournament as the 10 seed, where they won their first debate.

In the octofinals, Park/Semrick were lined up to face McMahon/Scott, so the higher-seeded team of McMahon/Scott advanced.

KU Debate/Contributed photo Michael Scott and Mickey McMahon
KU Debate/Contributed photo John Marshall and Jiyoon Park

KU freshmen Jiyoon Park and John Marshall finished preliminary debates 4-4, just missing out on qualifying for the bracket rounds. Marshall is also an alum of Free State High School, where he debated with Serena Rupp. 

Brett Bricker, the head coach and associate director of KU Debate, was awarded the George W. Ziegelmueller Award for Excellence in Education.

“This award is a reflection of Brett’s incredible excellence as a debate coach, as an educator, and as an individual who cares deeply about his students,” said Scott Harris, the David B. Pittaway Director of Debate at KU. “As someone who debated for and coached with Dr. Ziegelmueller I know that he would have been proud to have Brett Bricker win the award named in his honor. We are very proud of Brett and thankful for his dedication to KU Debate.”


Bricker is the third KU coach to win the award.

“I could not be prouder of the whole team for their contributions to the success of the teams at the NDT. The teams competing at the tournament prepared and debated with an elite level of rigor and passion,” Bricker said.

He said he was particularly proud of the four seniors who completed their careers with an outstanding national tournament.

‘The victories belong to more than just them though,” Bricker said. “Dedicated alumni supported their efforts through funding and moral support. The graduate student coaches contributed countless hours of labor and the other members of the squad helped prepare them for success.”

Free State alum Rupp and partner Clara Conry, of Emory University, went 5-3 in prelims which qualified them for the top 32, where they lost in the first round of the bracket to Dartmouth. 

Lawrence High alum and Missouri State freshman Jake Shew partnered with Connor Burns to finish the tournament 2-6.

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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 his work for the Times here.

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