The National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence released its updated rankings, and William Jewell College has the top two ranked teams in the nation out of more than 425 teams. Jewell debate traveled to McKendree University (Lebanon, Ill.) to compete in two tournaments and made history by advancing the same two Open Division teams to the Championship Round at both competitions. As a result of the success, Jewell won the Top Debate School award, defeating teams from Washburn University, Loyola University and University of Texas-Tyler, among others.
During the McKendree Bearcat, the first tournament, the teams of Kyle Mellon (senior; Norman, Okla.) and Matt Reisener (senior; Indianola, IA) and Spencer Shanks (junior; Kearney) and Tyler White (senior; Independence) advanced to the Championship Round to close out the tournament. The team of Stephen Ahal (sophomore; Chesterfield) and Rosemary Loehr (junior; Kansas City) placed third, however the team did not lose their semi-final round, but were advanced over by another Jewell team. Brit Isbell (sophomore; Monett) and Heather Swadley (senior; Norman, Okla.) advanced to the Sweet 16 round. In addition to the Open Division closeout, the team of Jess Gehrig (first year; Liberty) and Mia Richardson (first year; Kansas City, Kan.) won the Junior Varsity Championship.
The strong showing of the Jewell squad did not stop at the first tournament. At the Hunsacker Classic, the teams of Mellon and Reisener and Shanks and White once against advanced to the Championship Round, resulting in a closeout. Based on initial research, the result appears to be the first time the same two teams advanced to both Championship Rounds in a tournament weekend. The team of Ahal and Loehr advanced to the Elite 8 round and Isbell and Swadley advanced to the Sweet 16 round. Once again, the Junior Varsity team of Gehrig and Richardson advanced to the Championship Round, though losing a close decision, to place second. Reisener also won the Individual Speaker Champion.
“It is hard to imagine a better tournament result,” said Kevin Garner, director of debate and instructor of communication. “The squad worked together and across the board, saw success. I am unaware of any other time in the activity’s history that the events over the weekend happened; I am so proud to be a part of this program.”
As a result of the squad’s strong showing, Mellon and Reisener rank as No. 1 debate team in the nation followed by Shanks and White as the No. 2 team out of over 425 teams. The last time that two teams from the same school ranked as the best teams in nation is not known. Ahal and Loehr ranked as the 17th best team in the nation.
“To have the two best teams in the nation plus a third team ranked in the top 20 is unbelievable. Words cannot describe how humbled I am by working with such great talent,” Garner said.