McKendree University's Powell and Deleel are National Debate Champions!

(LEBANON, Ill., March 23, 2020) — Adeja Powell and Mitch Deleel were victorious in the final round of the 2020 National Parliamentary Debate Association Championship Tournament (NPDA) to become McKendree University’s first NPDA national champions!

“This is an incredible achievement for Adeja and Mitch. Their journey as a team began a little over two years ago and, since that time, they have become a historically successful team, winning six regular season tournaments and, now, the national tournament,” said Brent Nicholson debate coach. “This is also a huge accomplishment for the McKendree University speech and debate program – other team members, coaches and alumni.”

Twenty-one colleges and universities, including the University of California at Berkeley, Rice University, and the University of Texas, attended the NPDA Championship Tournament, hosted by McKendree on March 12-14. Representing McKendree were seniors Caden Owens and Adeja Powell; juniors Mitch Deleel and Rebecca Postula; sophomores Kyle Garrett and Kyle Smith; and first-years Dalton Atwater, Jamari Jackson, and Maddie Kopp. McKendree also hosted the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE) on March 7-9.

Powell and Deleel posted a 7-1 record in prelims. After receiving a bye in the double-octofinal round, they proceeded to defeat Texas Tech University in octofinals (3-0), the University of Minnesota in quarterfinals (4-1), the University of Oregon in semifinals (7-0), and Lewis and Clark College in finals (6-3). They won 27 of 32 ballots to complete one of the more dominant national tournament performances in NPDA history. Powell was also recognized as the third place speaker, while Deleel finished in ninth place. They finished in tenth place at the NPTE just days earlier.

“I am honored to represent McKendree University and this activity as a national champion,” said Powell, the debate team captain. “I’d like to thank my fellow team members, coaches, and members of the parliamentary debate community for their support.”

“The coaching staff, for several years, has had a standing commitment to get tattoos with our team initials if we won,” added Deleel. “I’m not saying it was our primary motivation – but I’m certainly looking forward to it.”

Additionally, Garrett and Smith went 6-2 in prelims, earning a bye through double-octofinals. They finished as octofinalists (ninth place), after just missing the break to elims at the NPTE. Owens and Postula posted a 4-4 record, just missing the break to final rounds. They did advance at the NPTE, taking 16th place. Owens was also recognized as an NPDA All-American.

McKendree University took second place in tournament sweepstakes and 11th in season sweepstakes. At NPTE, McKendree’s Nicholson was recognized as the 2020 Coach of the Year.

“Hosting both NPTE and NPDA at McKendree was truly an honor,” said Joe Blasdel, director of speech and debate. “However, the onset of COVID-19 during the tournament proved challenging. In consultation with health services, we instituted several protocols to protect the safety of folks attending the tournament.”

McKendree will complete its 2019-20 season at the National Speech Championship, hosted by George Mason University. The tournament was scheduled for March 21-22, but has been tentatively rescheduled for May 30-31.


McKendree University debaters Mitch Deleel, Adeja Powell, Caden Owens and Rebecca Postula at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, held at the Lebanon campus.

McKendree University debaters Mitch Deleel, Adeja Powell, Caden Owens and Rebecca Postula at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, held at the Lebanon campus.