Washburn University Emerges as National Champions in NFA Lincoln-Douglas Debate Championships

By Trish Svoboda

The debate team from Washburn University received the title of national champions at the National Forensic Association (NFA) Lincoln-Douglas Debate Championships. The event was held at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, from April 18 to 22. Western Kentucky University secured the second position, followed by North Texas University in third place. The University of Nebraska at Lincoln was honored with fourth place.

Cade Blenden, a junior from Washburn, has clinched the tournament championship and has been recognized as the championship’s top speaker. Other notable achievers include Jacob Bailes, also a junior, who made it to the top eight. Seniors Dan Archer and Logan Michael, along with junior Andrew Rea, secured spots in the top 16. Freshmen Maddox Misak and Alfonso Rascon advanced to the top 32. In addition to his top 16 finish, Andrew Rea earned the distinction of being the fourth top speaker overall.

Freshman Wendo Kimori, sophomore Braxton Kindel, junior Hunter Squires, and freshman Jyaira Ware also participated in the tournament. Kimori, Squires, and Ware each had a 3-3 record, just falling short of progressing beyond the elimination rounds. Jenna Gorton, a current graduate student in Washburn’s master’s communication and leadership program, along with debate program alumni Aly Fiebrantz (’11) and Matt Parnell (’18), contributed to the coaching responsibilities for the tournament.

The NFA Championship represents the pinnacle of collegiate Lincoln-Douglas debate at the national level. The debaters have been gearing up for this event by participating in various tournaments throughout the year, focusing on a topic that spans the entire academic year. This year’s topic revolved around the reduction in the number or role of nuclear weapons by the United States federal government.

“This tournament is the culmination of all our work since August,” said Dr. Kevin O’Leary, director of debate and senior lecturer for communication studies for Washburn University. “Not only does our first-place finish illustrate the strength of the Washburn debate program, but it also shows the quality of our students. Washburn had more debaters advance through the rounds than any other school. I couldn’t be prouder of their hard work and perseverance.

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