The Georgia Debate Union recently capped off its historically successful 2017-2018 season at the 72nd National Debate Tournament in Wichita, Kansas.
The National Debate Tournament (NDT) is the premier national championship tournament for intercollegiate policy debate. Only 78 teams are allowed to attend, with each team having to qualify weeks prior to the tournament itself.
2017-2018 marks the 29th consecutive year that teams representing the University of Georgia have competed at the National Debate Tournament.
For the first time in program history, two teams representing UGA earned first-round "at large" qualifying bids to the NDT. Only 16 first-round qualifying bids are awarded each year and they are given the top ranked teams in the country over the course of the season as voted upon by a committee of 13 debate coaches around the country.
The teams of Advait Ramanan/Swapnil Agrawal and Nathan Rice/Johnnie Stupek - all third-year debaters at UGA - earned first-round at large bids. Other teams earning first-round at large bids included Harvard University, Northwestern University, Georgetown University, Wake Forest University, Emory University and the University of Kentucky.
In addition, 3 teams representing UGA qualified for the NDT in 2017-2018, the first time the Georgia Debate Union has achieved that feat since the 2008-2009 season. The third qualifying team of second-year debater Alyssa Hoover and first-year debater Tripp Haskins joined teams from Harvard University, Wake Forest University, Emory University, Dartmouth College and the University of Kansas as the only squads to qualify three teams to the 78-team national championship tournament.
At this year's NDT, hosted at Wichita State University from March 23 to March 26, each UGA team finished in the top 30 teams overall. In addition, two teams from UGA participated in elimination rounds, the first time the Georgia Debate Union has achieved such a feat since the 2002-2003 season.
2017-2018 represents one of the most successful seasons in the Georgia Debate Union's history. In addition to the historic achievements at the NDT, teams representing UGA won the Vanderbilt and University of Miami debate tournaments, placed second at the US Naval Academy and James Madison University tournaments, and earned top 5 finishes at Georgia State University, Wake Forest University, the University of Pittsburgh Round Robin and the Dartmouth Round Robin.
"The Georgia Debate Union would like to thank the Division of Student Affairs, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Russell Foundation, and the Office of the President for their support, without which our ability to attract talented students and compete nationally would not be possible," said head debate coach Hays Watson.
Image: left to right, Georgia Debate Union team members Tripp Haskins, Advait Ramanan, Nathan Rice, Alyssa Hoover, Johnnie Stupek, and Swapnil Agrawal.