At the same time that millions of basketball lovers watched Kentucky win this year’s NCAA Tournament, Northwestern debaters Ryan Beiermeister and Layne Kirshon were contending with Georgetown University in the final round of the 2012 National Debate Tournament.

Georgetown won on a close 3-2 ballot, making Northwestern the runner-up.

The Wildcats had once again qualified three teams for the tournament based on their records in regular season competition.  Qualifying that many teams is unusual but becoming almost habitual for Northwestern.

All three teams emerged from round robin competition into the group of 16 teams for the elimination rounds and again from the group of eight. But only top Northwestern team — Beiermeister and Kirshon — advanced from there, ending their season in the final round.

Beiermeister and Kirshon entered the tournament as the team with the best record in the country for 2011-12, earning them the prestigious Rex Copeland Trophy. They cleared the preliminary rounds with a 6-0 record, losing only two of 18 ballots.

In preliminary rounds, Beiermeister earned more speaker points than any other competitor, earning her the trophy for the Top Speaker of the 2012 tournament. Kirshon was the second place speaker. In all, five of Northwestern’s six competing debaters placed among the top 20 speakers.

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