Washburn debate teams fight to final round of national tournament

Ian Mikkelsen and Ryan Kelly pose for a picture after placing second in a tournament for the National Parliamentary Debate Association in Flagstaff, Ariz. Both have participated in debate since high school.

University debate team competed at two national parliamentary debate tournaments in Flagstaff, Ariz. The tournaments were hosted by Northern Arizona University. Fifty -three different colleges had teams at the tournaments. Washburn won both tournaments in 2012 with debaters Josh Ramsey and Lauren Knoth. Washburn’s teams have been ranked at the national level for at least the past five years.

The first of the tournaments was the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, which ran from March 16 to March 18. Washburn’s teams finished 15th, 21st, and 28th places. The second tournament was the National Parliamentary Debate Association where Washburn finished third overall, with Ian Mikkelsen and Ryan Kelly finishing in second as individuals.

“It’s really exciting,” said Kelly, a freshman economics and communications major. “I never thought we’d make it that far.”

The resolution Mikkelsen and Kelly were given during their final round was that President Obama should dismiss CIA director John Brennan. The topics are not released to the teams prior to the tournament. The debate team had to guess what resolutions might be assigned in preparation. The topic was announced 30 minutes prior to the round.

“It was a lot of fun to debate on the final stage in front of the rest of the debate community,” said Mikkelsen, a junior economics and communications major.

Mikkelsen and Kelly have had shared experiences in debate prior to their partnership for the Washburn debate team. They were  both on the Seaman High School  debate team in Topeka where Mikkelsen helped coach Kelly for two years while he was in high school. Their history together makes them a strong partnership.

“We both enjoyed debating for Washburn,” said Mikkelson. “The support we’ve gotten from the entire school is a big help.”

Kelly stressed the importance of preparation to their success. He says that everyone on the team contributes to the research they keep on file. For a tournament like the NPDA where the topics are not released, they have to read all the news sources and guess what will most likely become a topic.

Washburn’s debate program will be able to take advantage of Mikkelsen and Kelly’s experience and chemistry. With Kelly achieving this level of success as a freshman, the debate program will benefit from his talents for another several more years. Kelly says that he is dedicated to being on the debate team for the rest of his time at Washburn.