The William Jewell College Debate Team won the national championship after beating 151 teams from 53 colleges and universities at the National Parliamentary Debate Association National Championship Tournament March 21-23 at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz.
The Squad Tournament National Championship title, considered to be amongst the most difficult to win, is awarded to the school with the best showing among the school’s top four teams. Of the five Jewell teams that competed, none possessed a losing record. Jewell beat schools of all sizes and divisions including the University of California-Berkeley, University of Oregon, University of Missouri and Loyola-Chicago University.
The Jewell team of senior Spencer Shanks of Kearney, Mo., and senior Tyler White of Independence, Mo., finished third. Junior David Hansen of St. George, Utah, and junior Katelyn Johnson of Spanish Fork, Utah, finished ninth. Junior Stephen Ahal of Chesterfield, Mo., and senior Rosemary Loehr of Kansas City, Mo., claimed the No. 17 spot. Other Jewell competitors included first-year Damon Brown of Kansas City, Mo., first-year Alex Holden of Springfield, Mo., sophomore Jess Gehrig of Liberty and sophomore Mia Richardson of Kansas City, Kan.
Loehr was named one of eight All-Americans for her success in both debate and the classroom. After beating over 300 competitors, Shanks was named the second-best speaker in the nation; White received the title of fourth-best speaker; and Loehr finished in the No. 20 spot.
“I could not be more proud of this squad; they’ve put in many hours of research, practice, and travel to achieve this championship,” said Kevin Garner, Jewell director of debate and instructor of communication. “To have the level of talent that we do across the entire squad is a testament to the student’s dedication to the activity.” Along with Garner, Kyle Dennis serves as the squad’s assistant debate coach.
Garner, who as a student at William Jewell won a 2007 national championship with his debate partner, is thrilled to secure another championship for the college. “To bring another championship to your alma mater is a dream come true; I owe a lot to William Jewell and I am happy to help bring the recognition the college deserves.”