Friday, May 3, 2013

Young debaters carry KCKCC to 10th National Phi Rho Pi title


Even without their All-Americans, Kansas City Kansas Community College debaters have a 10th straight Phi Rho Pi national championship.

Led by four gold medalists in Lincoln Douglas, Coach Darren Elliott’s team nearly doubled the point total of second place Casper College of Wyoming in winning the Phi Rho Pi Debate Sweepstakes and tying with El Paso (Tex.) for the Overall Sweepstakes title which combined debate and individual events.

“Our two CEDA All-Americans, Ryan McFarland and Kristyn Russell, had already competed twice in the Phi Rho Pi and were not eligible so I was really happy with how our less experienced debaters stepped up and performed so well,” said Elliott.

Held at Los Angeles Valley College in Woodland Hills, Calif., the national tournament drew 400 competitors from 60 community colleges across the nation.

The gold medals in Lincoln Douglas were won by Evan Johnson, Justin Parks, Josh Miller and Payton Cummings.

“To win the Gold, each debater won two consecutive elimination debaters after preliminaries,” said Elliott. That put all four KCKCC debaters in the finals where all were awarded gold medals.

Josh Miller, who defeated El Camino College and Casper College in the elimination rounds on 3-0 decisions, was 5-1 in the preliminaries and was the only debater in the tournament to win 11 out of a possible 12 judges’ ballots.

In other elimination rounds, Evan Johnson defeated two California entrants, Mt. San Antonio and Irvine Valley; Justin Parks eliminated Irvine Valley and Northwest Wyoming; and Payton Cummings beat Lone Star College of Kingwood, Tex., and City College of San Francisco.

A fifth KCKCC entrant, Alex Glanzman, took third after losing to Northwest College.

In addition, Justin Parks won the Bell-Scroggins Award given to the top speaker in Parliamentary Debate.

“That meant Justin was first out of 178 students,” said Elliott.

Parks and Evan Johnson, who was second, tied for third place in Parliamentary Debate after losing to a duo from Solano and Moorpark community colleges in the semifinals. Josh Miller and Payton Cummings also tied for third after losing to Cerritos.

The Phi Rho Pi championship comes on the heels of winning the Cross Examination Debate Assn. (CEDA) championship for the eighth time in 10 years.

The CEDA championship is determined by points accumulated throughout the season competing against mainly four-year colleges and universities while the Phi Rho Pi title is decided by head-to-head competition with other community colleges.

“We also won our first ever Regional championship, beating out the University of Kansas, Kansas State, UMKC and Johnson County Community College,” said Elliott.

The Blue Devils finished ahead of Johnson County, Los Rios and Los Angeles City College of California and the University of District of Columbia for the CEDA community college championship.

Kristyn Russell of Lansing and Ryan McFarland of Hutchinson earned All-American honors for their performances in CEDA, where they finished in the top 40 out of 160 college and university teams.

“Only 30 debaters from all the two and four-year colleges and universities nationwide are selected to the All-American team and for KCKCC to have two is amazing,” said Elliott.

The KCKCC duo also competed in the National Debate Tournament (NDT) at Weber State in Ogden, Utah, only the second time KCKCC has qualified a team for debate’s most prestigious event.

It was the second time in the NDT for McFarland, who became the only debater to ever qualify for both the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence and NDT national competitions two years in a row.