Friday, April 20, 2012

KCKCC Debate team continues to make history after winning ninth straight title


Since when does winning national championships become almost secondary?

Strange as it might sound, sweeping national Cross-Examination and Phi Rho Pi championships was only part of the biggest season in Kansas City Kansas Community College debate history this spring.

For the first time in KCKCC’s long and storied debate history, a team qualified for the prestigious National Debate Tournament (NDA); the Blue Devils were ranked in the Top Five nationally in two polls; and Darren Elliott became the first coach to receive the Phi Rho Pi Lynch-Grossman Award.

Presented for continued support and excellence in policy debate, the Lynch-Grossman award had previously always gone to students including two from KCKCC, Ryan McFarland and David Bowers.

“In the past, students have voted on the award but this year the coaches voted on it,” said Elliott.

With two national trophies in their grasp, the Blue Devils finished No. 5 overall among all college and universities in the CEDA rankings and No. 4 overall in the final NDA poll.

Liberty, Northwestern, Oklahoma and the U.S. Military Academy were the only teams finishing ahead of KCKCC in CEDA; Liberty, Northwestern and Oklahoma in NDA.

KCKCC’s most recent national championship was won this past weekend at the national Phi Rho Pi championships in Schaumburg, Ill., and was a record ninth in a row in the competition open only to community colleges.

Earlier, KCKCC ended a two-year skein of finishing second by winning the Community College Division Sweepstakes Championship of the Cross-Examination Debate Assn. (CEDA) at the University of Oklahoma.

Determined by a team’s performance in competition against two and four-year institutions throughout the season, KCKCC nearly doubled the point totals of runnerup Los Rios and third place Johnson County and is the seventh CEDA national title won by Elliott-coached teams.

Between the two national tournaments, the duo of Thomas Garvey and Ryan McFarland was chosen to compete in the AFA National Debate Tournament (NDT) in Atlanta, Ga., and the team of Marin Loken and Justin Parks won the Novice Nationals tournament at Johnson County Community College, winning all nine debates by 3-0 votes.

Both are freshmen, Parks from Hutchinson and Loken from Sacramento, Calif.

McFarland and Garvey are the first KCKCC team to ever be selected to compete in the NDT and only the sixth community college team selected since 1941.

“It’s equivalent to playing in the NCAA basketball tournament and an amazing accomplishment because the NDT is an elite tournament dominated by the top juniors and seniors from the nation’s best teams,” said Elliott.

“When it was announced that we were competing in the tournament for the first time, we got a standing ovation from about 500 persons. I’ve gone through a lot but that brought a few chills.” 

The duo, McFarland from Hutchinson and Garvey from Valley Center, finished 2-4 in the NDT, beating Dartmouth and West Georgia but losing four split 2-1 decisions.

Both Garvey and McFarland were named to the CEDA All-America team, only two of three community college debaters so honored.

The duo of sophomore Joshua Miller of Independence, Mo , and Evan Johnson of Wichita East also reached the final round of 64 at CEDA, the first time KCKCC has had two teams advance through the elimination rounds. The duo of Andy Montee and Chris Rohan was last team KCKCC to advance in 2009.

Garvey led KCKCC to its record ninth straight Phi Rho Pi championships by winning the Policy Lincoln Douglas championship, defeating Irvine Valley 3-0 in the finals. KCKCC put three debaters in the semifinals with Evan Johnson and Independence freshman Josh Miller tying for third.

In addition, the duo of Tyler Gillette and Evan Johnson finished second in parliamentary debate to assure KCKCC of the Debate Sweepstakes award and third in the Overall Sweepstakes which took in both debate and forensics.

Assisted by Scott Elliott, former KCKCC debaters Candace Moore, John Bretthauer, Clay Crockett and Andy Montee along with Mike Krueger also assisted on a voluntary basis during the banner season.  

“The way everything played out, this was probably our best year,” says Elliott, who is in his 11th year as head coach. “I think our success came because we came together and everyone was helping everyone else out, even when they weren’t debating. It was great way for our students to be recruited.”

All three sophomores will be continuing their debating careers. Garvey is expected to enroll at Kansas State, Gillette at Missouri State and Bowers at Cameron. 


PHOTO: Led by Darren Elliott (front), the first coach to receive the Lynch-Grossman Award, KCKCC won a record ninth straight national Phi Rho Pi championship and swept the CEDA national debate title for the seventh time in 2012. Team members include (second row, from left) All-Americans Ryan McFarland and Tom Garvey; (third row) Justin Parks, Marin Loken and David Bowers; and (fourth row) assistant coach Scott Elliott, Tyler Gillette and Evan Johnson. Josh Miller was not available. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)