Topeka, Kan. – The Washburn University debate team has been crowned the national champions at the National Forensic Association (NFA) Lincoln-Douglas Debate Championships hosted by Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, April 18 – 22. Western Kentucky University earned second place, North Texas University third and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln took home fourth place honors.

Washburn’s Cade Blenden (junior) is the tournament champion and has been named the top speaker of the championship. Also earning top honors are Jacob Bailes (junior) finishing in the top eight, Dan Archer (senior), Logan Michael (senior) and Andrew Rea (junior) finishing in the top 16, Maddox Misak (freshman) and Alfonso Rascon (freshman) advancing through to the top 32. Rea was also named the fourth top speaker overall.

Wendo Kimori (freshman), Braxton Kindel (sophomore), Hunter Squires (junior) and Jyaira Ware (freshman) also competed in this tournament. Kimori, Squires and Ware all went 3-3, narrowly missing advancing passed elimination rounds. Current graduate student in Washburn’s master’s communication and leadership program, Jenna Gorton, debate program alumni Aly Fiebrantz (’11) and Matt Parnell (‘18) helped with the coaching duties for the tournament.

The NFA Championship is the national championship for collegiate Lincoln-Douglas debate. These debaters have been preparing for this event by competing in tournaments throughout the year over a year-long topic. The topic for this academic year concerned the United States federal government reducing the number or role of its nuclear weapons.

“This tournament is the culmination of all our work since August,” said Dr. Kevin O’Leary, director of debate and senior lecturer for communication studies for Washburn University. “Not only does our first-place finish illustrate the strength of the Washburn debate program, but it also shows the quality of our students. Washburn had more debaters advance through the rounds than any other school. I couldn’t be prouder of their hard work and perseverance.”

Joining Washburn at the Championships were California State University Sacramento, Central Michigan University, DePaul University, Florida State University, Illinois College, Illinois State University, Lewis & Clark College, Marshall University, Missouri State University, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), San Joaquin Delta Community College, Simpson College, Texas State University, Truman State University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of North Texas, University of Pittsburgh, University of the Pacific, University of Utah and Western Kentucky University.

O’Leary and Steve Doubledee, assistant director of debate and senior lecturer for communication studies for Washburn University, are the debate coaches for Washburn University. The Washburn University debate program focuses on Lincoln-Douglas, or LD, debate format. LD is a debate format that follows the basic time schedule 6 - 3 - 7 - 3 - 4 - 6 - 3. Each debater gets 13 minutes of total speaking time, and three minutes of question time. The rounds take approximately 45 minutes in total. Each debater receives four to five minutes of preparation time to use between speeches however they like.

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For further information, contact:
Joy Bailes
Director of Internal Communications and Brand Management
Office: 785-670-2153
Cell: 785-230-1648
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