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MSU Debate Qualifies Two Teams for National Tournament

David Koster, Stephen Lewis, Joanna Gusis, and Tony Miklovis holding awards.

By Sloane Barlow

Which team on Michigan State’s campus has qualified for 28 consecutive national tournaments?

(If you guessed men’s basketball, you’re close. They’ve qualified for 26.)

This impressive streak belongs to MSU Debate, who recently qualified two squads for the 2024 National Debate Tournament (NDT) happening in Atlanta from April 4-8.

Congratulations to the debate team of Joanna Gusis and Tony Miklovis, and the team of David Koster and Stephen Lewis on this achievement.

David Koster and Stephen Lewis in front of awards case.

Koster and Lewis qualified for the NDT through the district tournament process. Finishing as the top team in their district competition earned this duo – and 77 other teams –  a spot at the national tournament.

“While debaters compete in teams of two, the team and the coaches collectively contribute to the research effort and preparation, so it’s an achievement the whole team is proud of,” said Director of MSU Debate Carly Watson.

Gusis and Miklovis earned a first round at-large bid to the NDT, ranking them as one of the top 16 teams in the entire country.

“Receiving a first-round bid has been incredibly gratifying and validating of the effort that the MSU Debate team and Joanna, in particular, have put into helping the team maximize our competitive success,” Miklovis said.

Joanna Gusis and Tony Miklovis holding an award on a city balcony.

Watson applauded Gusis and Miklovis in receiving an automatic bid and showcasing MSU Debate.

“It recognizes their season-long success and is a reflection of how they’ve competed at the highest levels of intercollegiate policy debate throughout the year,” Watson said. “The last time MSU was ranked this high heading into a national championship was 2016, so it’s taken a lot of hard work from the debaters and coaches to reach this point.”

“Joanna and Tony earned this award the old-fashioned way—through a great deal of hard work,” said MSU Debate Head Coach William Repko. “They represent our university well by regularly defeating Ivy League competition.”

Gusis noted the Honors College as an instrumental contributor of necessary resources for the debate team’s success.

She said from “the financial support provided, to ensuring the debate team has a strong administrative backing, the Honors College is a large part of the reason the debate team can exist, function, and perform as well as we have.”

The MSU Debate Team is part of the Honors College. Debaters do not need to be honors students to represent the team.

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