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DebatersSophomores, from left, Ryan McFarland of Hutchinson and Kristyn Russell of Lansing have qualified for the 2013 National Debate Tournament, making coach Darren Elliott’s Kansas City Community College team only the second in history to qualify a team two years in a row. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)
Just when it looks like Kansas City Kansas Community College has reached the pinnacle of debate success, coach Darren Elliott’s 9-time national champions go one better.
For the second year in a row, KCKCC will have a team in the National Debate Tournament to be held at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, March 28-April 1.
Elliott learned Monday that Ryan McFarland, a sophomore from Hutchinson, and Kristyn Russell, a sophomore from Lansing, have been selected to compete in the 78-team national tournament.
“I’m very excited,” Elliott said. “This is debate’s equivalent of the NCAA basketball tournament and what makes it even more special this is the first time since the 1981-82 that a community college has qualified in back-to-back seasons. Also, I believe this this is the first time that two community colleges have ever qualified the same year. The University of the District of Columbia also qualified.”
The selection of McFarland makes him the first debater to ever qualify for both the NDT and the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence two years in a row. Last year, he was the only debater to qualify for both events and this year he and sophomore Evan Johnson of Wichita have qualified for the Parliamentary Tournament to be held at the University of Nevada in Reno March 16-20. A 56-team tournament, KCKCC is one of just three community teams to qualify for that event.
KCKCC received an at large berth in the NDT after McFarland and Russell defeated Kansas State, Emporia State and Missouri State while losing to the University of Texas, Trinity University and another team from Missouri State in a conference tournament in Oklahoma two weeks ago. Other universities earning at-large berths include Harvard, Wake Forest, Michigan State, Northwestern, Texas, Kentucky, UMKC, Missouri State, James Madison and Emory.
“My stomach has been in knots,” Elliott said. “I had a spread sheet laid out to see which team might qualify and might not. I knew it would be close.”
To add to the suspense, teams that qualified were to be notified by phone, those not qualifying by email. “I started getting emails that other teams like K-State and Emporia State had not qualified and then I got an e-mail and thought the worst,” Elliott said. “But the commissioner said ‘Darren, I couldn’t find your phone number but congratulations on your team’s selection.’ ”
Elliott said McFarland and Russell will compete in eight preliminary rounds in the NDT to determine the 32 teams that will qualify into the elimination rounds. “It’s very intense. You’re going up against the very best college and university teams in the in the nation.”
Both Russell and McFarland are expected to continue their careers in debate at Wichita State University next year. “I’m really proud of Kristyn,” said Elliott. “She sat out last year and did not compete at all and then came back and debated like she had never lost any time. And for Ryan to qualify for both tournaments two years in a row is just amazing. Last year, he was the only one who competed in both the NDT and National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence.”