These Jayhawks are still in the running for national titles: a KU debate team and a KU-exclusive sandwich
After a rough loss to the University of Oregon Saturday night, the University of Kansas men’s basketball team is out of the running for a national title this year. However, they weren’t the only Jayhawks competing for national championships over the weekend, and — at least as of this afternoon — a KU debate team and a certain campus sandwich still have a shot at going all the way.
As you may know if you read my story from Friday, the National Debate Tournament is being hosted at KU this year, and today is the final day of competition. Three KU duos qualified to compete, and one was still standing as of early this afternoon: the team of Jacob Hegna and Henry Walter, both sophomores from Overland Park.
After lunch, Hegna and Walter were heading into the National Debate Tournament equivalent of the NCAA Elite Eight, said KU debate director Scott Harris. They were to face a team from Wake Forest University.
Technically, debate has different terms for their respective rounds in the national tournament. But for media interviews they’re good sports about translating those to terms more understandable to most outsiders. As Harris says about the collegiate debate world, “It is a strange and unusual universe.”
A major difference from the NCAA basketball championship: Whatever team wins the National Debate Tournament will have competed in four debates in a single day. The equivalent of the NCAA Sweet 16 started this morning; the championship round will start tonight and possibly last into the early hours of Tuesday morning.
“We do our Sweet 16 through the championship debate all in one day,” Harris said. “It’s an endurance contest ... Each debate is kind of like playing a basketball game — it’s two hours of strenuous physical and intellectual activity.”
KU debate started today with two teams still in play, but the duo of Quaram Robinson, a junior from Round Rock, Texas, and Kyndall Delph, freshman from Little Rock, Arkansas, lost their Sweet 16 round this morning to a team from Harvard University — one member of which is the reigning national champion, Harris said.
Stay tuned, I hope to have an update later today or on Tuesday on how the remaining KU debate team fares.
KU still has a chance to beat Oregon — if only in Food Management’s 2017 Menu Madness competition. Food Management created a bracket of signature campus menu items from top seeds in the NCAA men’s basketball regions.
Representing KU this year is not past online bracket powerhouse, the Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap, but a new menu item: the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe BBQ sandwich, available at Courtside Café inside the newly opened DeBruce Center. The sandwich has pulled pork, bacon, apple-cider slaw, cheddar cheese and fried onion straws — all piled on the same bun.
In the first round of Menu Madness, KU handily beat out Purdue University’s littleneck clam, crawfish and shrimp paella. Now KU is up against a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with macaroni and cheese (yes, I said a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with macaroni and cheese) from the University of Oregon.
Voting for the second round — which determines which menu item reaches the Menu Madness version of the Final Four — is open until midnight Tuesday online at food-management.com.
— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at email@example.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.
If you read this past weekend about the KU debate program's top duo this year, Melanie Campbell and Amanda Gress, you might be curious how things went for them at the National Debate Tournament in Ogden, Utah.
Campbell, a senior, told me her goal for her third NDT this year would be to make it to the elimination rounds for the first time. (Every team competes in eight preliminary debates over the span of three days, and then the teams with the best records move on to a five-round, single-elimination tournament.) Gress, a sophomore, wouldn't tell me what her goal was, because she didn't want to "jinx it."
According to a dispatch from head debate coach Scott Harris, the duo fell just short of Campbell's goal. And it sounds like they had some tough breaks.
Gress and Campbell wound up with a 4-4 record in their preliminary debates — the same record they had in last year's tournament — and they'd have moved on to the elimination rounds with one more victory. After five debates, they were sitting at 4-1, but then they lost three straight matches on split decisions by the three-judge panels. They had a tough draw, too: Seven of their eight opponents were teams that made it to the elimination rounds.
Their exit ended a streak of 10 straight years that at least one KU duo has reached the tournament's Sweet 16.
But the good news for them is that Campbell is staying for a fifth year, so they'll get another shot at it next year.
One other area note of interest: A team from Emporia State University is one of the best in the country this year. Emporia State made the NDT's Final Four, along with teams from Northwestern, Georgetown and Oklahoma. (The tournament should be over as of last night, but I've not yet found any final results. I'll update if/when I do.) Emporia State won another national tournament, sponsored by the Cross Examination Debate Association, last week in Idaho. KU's Campbell and Gress made it to the round of eight in that one.
Campbell, Gress and the rest of KU's debaters will now get a month or two off from living and breathing debate before the CEDA settles on next year's topic, which every collegiate debate tourney uses. Then the cycle begins again.
There's no DEBATING it: These students work hard. (I am obligated by Journalist Law to make a pun on the word "debate" or "argument" when writing about debate competitions.) Stop me from thinking about more puns by sending your KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And we have a winner: Emporia State's duo won the NDT title match late Monday night (technically early Tuesday morning, it sounds like), defeating the team from Northwestern. Per an ESU release, the team is the first ever to win both the NDT and the CEDA national tournament in the same year. The CEDA tourney is different in that it's open to all teams and doesn't require them to qualify.
Not only that, but ESU's duo is also the first team of two black students ever to win the NDT. KU coach Scott Harris noted when I talked to him last week that college debate leaders would also like to recruit more minority students to participate, along with more women. So that's a notable development.
ESU's victory over Northwestern was by a 3-2 vote. One of the judges was Harris, and he says he voted for Emporia.