Southeast Debate Team Crowned National Champions for Second Straight Year

The Southeast Missouri State University debate team was crowned the 2017 national champion for the second consecutive year at the National Educational Debate Association’s (NEDA) National Debate Tournament March 10-11 hosted by Anderson University. Southeast also won the 2016 national championship at Fullerton College. Southeast was represented by three teams competing in the novice crossfire division. Students debated whether the U.S. federal government should substantially reduce dependency on fossil fuels. All three of Southeast’s teams finished in the top five of their division. The teams brought home awards for a first and two fifth-place finishes. “The first tournament was in September, and the debaters competed at tournaments until March,” said Avery Henry, faculty advisor to the debate team. “Their perseverance through a long season, weekly practices and research assignments, and numerous practice debates culminated in Southeast's second national championship in as many years.” Sophomore Gregory Johnson of Bolingbrook, Illinois, defended his individual championship by winning first place in varsity crossfire debate for the second straight year. Sophomore Grace Lester of Wildwood, Missouri, and senior Jo Nell Cougill of Jackson, Missouri finished fifth place in varsity crossfire debate. The team of sophomores Jasmine Jones of Florissant, Missouri, and Jordan Keel of St. Charles, Missouri, finished fifth place in the novice crossfire debate. The team of Cougill and Collin Ritter of Advance, Missouri, finished with a 402 preliminary record and defeated a Ball State University team in the semi-finals. On top of the impressive team success, Cougill was named a NEDA All-American Debater, Johnson won sixth place speaker and Lester won eighth place speaker. “I am extremely proud of the dedication and hard work the team put into debate this season,” Henry said. For more information about the Southeast debate team, visit