The Minnesota State Debate Tournament

A Short History

The Minnesota State High School Debate Tournament is one of the oldest state debate tournaments in the country (if not the oldest). It is also the oldest competition sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL).
The first state tournament was held in 1902 under the sponsorship of the (now-defunct) Minneapolis Journal newspaper. The tournament was part of a broader movement by the Journal to fund various competitions. In addition to the debate tournament, the Journal supported spelling bees and similar events. The Journal provided coverage and the "Journal Cup", which was the trophy awarded to the winning school.
In addition to the Journal, substantial support was provided by the University of Minnesota debate team and their coach, who viewed the event as the perfect way to recruit experienced students to the team.


It is my goal to put the following information online:
All competing schools 1902-present
All students competing 1902-present
Win-loss records and speaker points of teams from the tournament era (1946-present)
Elimination brackets from appropriate years (1902-1945, 1971-present)
Elimination brackets will ideally include seed (where appropriate), side and ballot count

Currently, results from policy (from 1979) and LD (from 1991) are included.
Full information is known for schools and elimination round results in those years
Missing information from this era includes:
Policy: 1994, 1985 Prelim records and points, and a few results from 1990
Policy: Names of debaters: 1979 through 1983, 1989
Policy: Elim sides: 1985, 1995, 2002 through present
LD: Prelim results from 2002.
LD: Elim sides for the following seasons: 1997, 2002-present.

I would like to include information for the LD festivals preceding the official tournament, but lack information from the first festival (except for the champion and runner-up).
I would also like to include information for the Classic festival.
I will, from time-to-time, add older information. I have near-complete information for 1902-1970, excepting some student names.
From 1971-1978, there is a larger gap. I lack full elim brackets for the years 1971-1973 and 1977-78. I lack most student infomation for 1974-1978 and actually lack some school information for 1977 and 1978.
Also, any corrections would be helpful. The High School League is notorious for misspelling names, so I'm sure I have many incorrectly spelled names in the database. I corrected what I knew, and I apologize for any which I didn't catch.

Thanks to: Cort Sylvester, DJ Brynteson, Gregg Fishbein, Doug Hoverson and the MSHSL for providing information (no matter how minor).

If you can help, please e-mail me at
Please include "Debate State Tournament", or something similar, in the subject line.

Nathan Wodarz

Last Updated: Aug. 11, 2008

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