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UK Debate Team Off to a Strong Start After First Two Tournaments

By Blair Hoover, Bailey Klutts

(Oct. 23, 2015) — The University of Kentucky Debate team competed in the 44th Run for the Roses. The Run for the Roses is a small round robin format tournament where eight of the top teams in the country were invited to compete against the top Kentucky team.

The field represented the best of the best including Harvard, Michigan, Georgetown and Emory. The Kentucky team of Donald Grasse and Theo Noparstak — both political science majors at UK — finished as the tournament’s first and third speaker. This was the first time a Kentucky debater had won the top speaker since 1993 (Paul Skiermont).

A day later the entire Kentucky squad and almost 100 more teams joined the field for the 45th Henry Clay Invitational. Donald Grasse would again take the top speaker (out of 186 competitors) and he and his partner would make another incredible run to the semi-finals.

Two other Kentucky teams reached the sweet sixteen of the tournament, something no other school accomplished and something not done by a Kentucky squad in at least two decades.

"The team is off to their best start in more than twenty years," said coach Dave Arnett. "After the first two major tournaments of the year, Kentucky has finished second and third, out of around 100 teams at each.

"Last year they showed the country Kentucky debate was back with a sweet sixteen appearance at the National Championship tournament. This year builds on that and has the squad in the conversation for its first national championship since 1986.”

Donald Grasse, a distinguished member of the UK Debate team, says the team is able to finish strongly during competitions through lots of research and preparation. “I personally dedicate 40 plus hours a week to debate research.”

The team is doing better than ever in last two decades.

“For the first time since 1993, we have three teams hovering around the top 20 in the nation," said Grasse. "We had at least two teams in the top 16, we have been in the top four finishers twice and we found ourselves in finals once."

For more information about the UK Debate team visit their website.