The William Jewell debate squad ended a competitive season by advancing debaters to late elimination rounds at both national tournaments and capturing a ranking among the nation’s top 10 schools in parliamentary debate competition.
Four Jewell teams competed at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence held March 17-19 at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. The tournament invites the top 64 teams in the nation out of over 800 based on season-long rankings. Three of the four Jewell teams qualified for the elimination rounds. Spencer Shanks (sophomore, Kearney, Mo.) and Tyler White (junior, Independence, Mo.) placed sixteenth; David Dingess (senior, Aurora, Colo.) and Andrew Potter (senior, Buhler, Kan.) placed tenth; and Kyle Mellon (junior, Norman, Okla.) and Matt Reisener (junior, Indianola, Iowa) placed seventh. The team of Stephen Ahal (first-year, Chesterfield, Mo.) and Rosemary Loehr (sophomore, Kansas City) did not advance to elimination rounds. Dingess was named the fourteenth best speaker in the country and Potter scored an eleventh-place finish.
“To qualify to the NPTE is a difficult task and an honor that reflects success throughout the season,” said Kevin Garner, assistant debate coach. “Having four Jewell teams attend is a tribute to their abilities and work ethic. Placing three teams in the top sixteen is a really remarkable achievement.”
The four Jewell teams also competed March 19-21 at the National Parliamentary Debate Association national tournament, also held at Western Washington University. This event drew 164 teams, representing 53 schools from 18 states. All four Jewell teams advanced to the elimination bracket. Ahal and Loehr placed in the top 64 and Shanks and White were in the top 32. Mellon and Reisener and Dingess and Potter finished in the top 16. As a result of the team’s tournament success, the college won fourth place in the tournament championship. Other achievements included White receiving the nineteenth best speaker award and Reisener eighth, out of over 300 competitors. The NPDA also tracks year-long success; Jewell finished as the sixth-best college in the nation.
“I am so very proud of our students,” said director of debate Dr. Gina Lane. “They worked incredibly hard all semester, and put in 12-hour days during spring break to prepare for the national tournaments. It continues to be incredible that our college, as one of the smallest schools competing at nationals, can consistently do so well. It is a tribute to our students, their academic preparation, and our outstanding coaching staff.”
The tournament was also memorable for the coaching staff. Sisters and Allies against Inequality in Debate (SAAID) named its annual Advocate Award after Jewell debate coach Dr. Gina Lane. The award recognized Dr. Lane for 26 years of dedication to equality in debate. Garner noted during the awards presentation that Dr. Lane has been a pioneer for women in debate. Dr. Lane received a standing ovation for her commitment to inclusion. The NPDA also recognized Lane’s commitment to Jewell’s debate program. After 26 years as director of the program, Dr. Lane will step back next year to focus on her duties as chair of the Department of Communication and turn the director position over to Garner, a Jewell alum.
“As I think back over my last 26 years, I am so proud of the generations of Jewell debaters who accomplished so much as members of this program and as Jewell alums,” Dr. Lane said. “The countless awards that Jewell debaters earned during my tenure continued the legacy of great Jewell squads of the past under the leadership of Penny Swisher Kievet, Tom Willett, Georgia Bowman and P. Caspar Harvey. It has been an honor to serve in this capacity, and I know Kevin will be outstanding in his new role. The future of Jewell debate is bright.”