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Sources: Justin Green, 785-532-6863,;
and Beth Mendenhall,
Note to editor: Beth Mendenhall is a 2006 graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Overland Park, and Dustin Ziegler is a 2007 graduate of Highland Park High School, Topeka.
News release prepared by: Kayela Richard, 785-532-1546,

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010


MANHATTAN -- The Kansas State University debate team swept the recent Gonzaga tournament. It was the team's best tournament performance since at least 1985, according to Justin Green, K-State debate team director.

The pairing of Derek Ziegler, junior in political science and philosophy, Manhattan, and Beth Mendenhall, senior in political science and philosophy, Olathe, went 10-0 to earn first place in the tournament, first seed and the top speaker award.

"We have dubbed it the trifecta: the top seed, top speaker and winning the tournament. It is an extreme rarity for a school to do," said Green, who is an instructor of communication studies, theater and dance.

Mendenhall and Ziegler put in at least 30 hours of practice on top of jobs and school in the weeks prior to the tournament.

Some of the preparation was time spent learning a new electronic system for debate. The system, called Synergy, is more convenient for the debaters and is eco-friendly.

"Overall, it will save boxes and boxes of paper," Mendenhall said.

Each team of two used approximately 6,000 pages of evidence in the past. K-State has 11 teams of two, which means the team is saving more than 66,000 pieces of paper.

The shift from paper to electronic did cause some concerns.

"It was very stressful to make the transition but we did a lot of preparation," Mendenhall said. "There is always that fear of a blank screen, but Derek's ability to deal with computer issues is a big factor that helps."

The team took time this summer to learn and understand the software to be able to solve problems that may come up.

"It's paying off now because we don't have to fight with the technology as much," Ziegler said.

It also saves the team airfare, as the boxes of evidence they used to bring to tournaments weighed 300 pounds or more.

"We have found that the cost savings of going paperless with airfare, copier contracts and paper purchases have off-set the necessary technology that we needed to buy," Green added. "In future years this will mean that we will save money because we will already have the technology needed."

The debate team is looking forward to more successful tournaments this season. "This success was a testament to the overall work ethic and effort of this squad," Green said. "We are always looking for more debaters."

The K-State debate team has 22 members and a coaching staff of five.

"Debate is valuable because it provides a forum where individuals can hone their speaking and critical thinking skills in an environment that's very accepting of all forms of thought," Ziegler said. "Debate has been less of a hobby I do, and more of a supplement to my overall collegiate experience. I think that supplemental knowledge will serve me well into the future."

Students with experience in debate are encouraged to join the team. For more information, contact Green at 785-532-6863 or, or stop by 007 Kedzie Hall for more information.