The Run For The Roses: Breaking Down The Tournament of Champions, 1996-2010

This May will mark the 40th running of the Tournament of Champions at the University of Kentucky. Founded in 1972, the TOC has long been considered America’s foremost debate competition. Ever wonder which schools have had the most success at the TOC? Curious as to which state has advanced the most teams to elimination rounds? Want to know which schools have put together the longest streaks of elimination round appearances?

While results dating back to the founding of the tournament remain elusive, I have recently been able to compile the elimination round results from the last fifteen runs for the roses. Below the fold is a comprehensive breakdown of the results from 1996 through 2010. Two notes before digging in:

  1. For the purposes of this review, the run-off round counts as an appearance in the elimination rounds. A win in the run-off round, however, does not count as an elimination round win.

  2. Preliminary round packets are not yet available for each of the years included in this review. When they do become available, it will be possible to include preliminary round results and elimination round seedings in a future study.

Without further ado, what follows is everything you ever wanted to know about the last fifteen TOCs (but were probably embarrassed to ask).

Elimination Round Teams By Type of High School

A total of 67 high schools have qualified at least one team to the elimination rounds.

  1. Public (Non-Magnet) — 119 rounds, 34 schools
  2. Private — 109 rounds, 16 schools
  3. Public (Magnet) — 21 rounds, 6 schools

States With The Most Teams Appearing In Elimination Rounds

Schools from 24 states have qualified at least one team to the elimination rounds.

  1. Texas — 53 from 14 schools
  2. Illinois — 41 from 6 schools
  3. Georgia — 38 from 6 schools
  4. California — 20 from 7 schools
  5. Louisiana — 15 from 2 schools
  6. Massachusetts — 12 from 1 school
  7. Iowa — 9 from 2 schools
  8. Michigan — 8 from 3 schools
  9. New York — 8 from 4 schools
  10. Florida — 6 from 5 schools
  11. District of Columbia — 5 from 1 school
  12. Minnesota — 4 from 3 schools
  13. Ohio — 4 from 1 school
  14. Tennessee — 4 from 1 school
  15. Utah — 4 from 2 schools
  16. New Hampshire — 3 from 1 school
  17. Arizona — 1 from 1 school
  18. Kentucky — 1 from 1 school
  19. Maryland — 1 from 1 school
  20. Nevada — 1 from 1 school
  21. Pennsylvania — 1 from 1 school
  22. Virginia — 1 from 1 school
  23. Washington — 1 from 1 school
  24. Wisconsin — 1 from 1 school

The Dallas Metropolitan Area alone has qualified more teams to the elimination rounds—42—than any other state in the country. The Houston Metropolitan Area (8) and the San Antonio/Austin Metropolitan Area (3) also have qualified more teams to the elimination rounds than many states.

States With The Most Schools Appearing In Elimination Rounds

Eleven states have qualified teams from multiple schools to the elimination rounds.

  1. Texas — 14
  2. California — 7
  3. Illinois — 6
  4. Georgia — 6
  5. Florida — 5
  6. New York — 4
  7. Michigan — 3
  8. Minnesota — 3
  9. Iowa — 2
  10. Louisiana — 2
  11. Utah — 2

States With The Most Years Appearing In Elimination Rounds

Two states—Illinois and Texas—have qualified at least one team to the elimination rounds in each of the last fifteen tournaments.

  1. Illinois — 15
  2. Texas — 15
  3. Georgia — 13
  4. California — 12
  5. Massachusetts — 9
  6. Louisiana — 8
  7. New York — 8
  8. Iowa — 7
  9. Michigan — 6
  10. Florida — 5

States With The Most Teams Appearing In Elimination Rounds In A Single Year

Georgia has qualified the most teams to elimination rounds in a single season (6, in 2002).

  1. 6 — Georgia (2002)
  2. 5 — Illinois (2010, 2000), Texas (2004, 2001)
  3. 4 — California (2009, 1998), Illinois (1997), Texas (2009, 2008, 2005, 2003, 1999, 1998, 1996), Georgia (2009, 2007, 2003)

Schools With The Most Teams Appearing In Elimination Rounds

Greenhill and Glenbrook North top the list of schools with the most appearances in elimination rounds.

  1. Greenhill — 20
  2. Glenbrook North — 20
  3. Caddo Magnet — 13
  4. Glenbrook South — 12
  5. Westminster — 12
  6. Woodward Academy — 11
  7. Lexington — 11
  8. College Prep — 9
  9. Colleyville Heritage — 8
  10. Valley — 8

Schools With The Most Years Appearing In Elimination Rounds

Greenhill and Glenbrook North have qualified at least one team to the elimination rounds in all but one season.

  1. Greenhill — 14
  2. Glenbrook North — 14
  3. Glenbrook South — 12
  4. Westminster — 9
  5. Woodward Academy — 9
  6. Lexington — 9
  7. Caddo Magnet — 8
  8. College Prep — 7
  9. Pace Academy — 6
  10. St. Mark’s — 6
  11. Colleyville Heritage — 6
  12. Valley — 6
  13. Chattahoochee — 6

Schools With The Most Consecutive Years Appearing In Elimination Rounds

Greenhill’s streak of fourteen consecutive appearances in the elimination rounds was snapped in 2010 but remains the benchmark by which other streaks will be measured. In total, there have been fifteen streaks of at least three consecutive seasons appearing in the elimination rounds.

  1. 14 — Greenhill (1996-2009)
  2. 9 — Glenbrook North (1996-2004)
  3. 7 — Caddo Magnet (1996-2002), College Prep (1999-2005), Glenbrook South (1997-2003), Westminster (2001-2007)
  4. 5 — Chattahoochee (2004-2008), Glenbrook North (2006-2010), Valley (1999-2003)
  5. 4 — Woodward Academy (2000-2003)
  6. 3 — Bronx Science (2008-2010), Glenbrook South (2005-2007), Groves (2006-2008), Pace Academy (2007-2009), St. Mark’s (2006-2008)

Only two streaks — Glenbrook North (5) and Bronx Science (3) — are currently active.

Schools With The Most Teams In Elimination Rounds In A Single Year

Three schools have qualified three teams for the elimination rounds in a single season.

  1. Caddo Magnet — 2005
  2. Head Royce — 1998
  3. Woodward Academy — 2002

Another eleven schools have qualified two teams to the elimination rounds in a single season.

  1. Caddo Magnet — 2000, 1997, 1996
  2. Chattahoochee — 2006
  3. College Prep — 2004, 2002
  4. Colleyville Heritage — 2008, 2003
  5. Georgetown Day — 2006
  6. Glenbrook North — 2010, 2007, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000
  7. Greenhill — 2004, 2003, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996
  8. Lexington — 2005, 1999, 1996
  9. Montgomery Bell Academy — 2004
  10. Westminster — 2003, 2002
  11. Valley — 2003, 1996

Schools With The Most Teams In The Quarterfinals Or Better

Three teams have advanced nine teams to the quarterfinals or better.

  1. Glenbrook North — 10
  2. Greenhill — 9
  3. Westminster — 9
  4. Caddo Magnet — 7
  5. Glenbrook South — 7
  6. College Prep — 6
  7. Woodward Academy — 5
  8. Centerville — 4
  9. Colleyville Heritage — 4
  10. Lexington — 4
  11. Pace Academy – 4
  12. St. Mark’s — 4

Schools With The Most Consecutive Years Appearing In The Quarterfinals Or Better

Westminster advanced at least one team to the quarterfinals in six consecutive seasons between 2002 and 2007.

  1. 6 — Westminster (2002-2007)
  2. 5 — Caddo Magnet (1997-2001), Glenbrook North (2000-2004), Greenhill (1996-2000)
  3. 3 — College Prep (1999-2001), Glenbrook South (1996-1999), Greenhill (2006-2008), Woodward Academy (2000-2002)

Schools With The Most Teams In The Semifinals Or Better

Greenhill and Glenbrook North have advanced seven teams to the semifinals or beyond.

  1. Greenhill — 7
  2. Glenbrook North — 7
  3. Westminster — 5
  4. College Prep — 4
  5. Lexington — 4
  6. St. Mark’s — 4
  7. Glenbrook South — 3
  8. Woodward Academy — 3

In total, 25 schools have advanced at least one team to the semifinals and fourteen schools have advanced at least two teams to the semifinals.

Schools With The Most Consecutive Years Appearing In The Semifinals

Glenbrook North advanced at least one team to the semifinals in four consecutive seasons from 2001 to 2004.

  1. 4 — Glenbrook North (2001-2004)
  2. 3 — Greenhill (2006-2008)
  3. 2 — Chattahoochee (2004-2005), College Prep (2003-2004), Damien (2008-2009), Glenbrook South (1997-1998), Greenhill (1997-1998), Kinkaid (2009-2010), St. Mark’s (2001-2002), Westminster (2009-2010), Woodward Academy (2000-2001)

Schools have made back-to-back appearances in the semifinals only eleven times with Glenbrook North (4) and Greenhill (3) the only teams to reach the semifinals at three or more consecutive tournaments.

Schools With The Most Teams In The Final Round

Greenhill has advanced six teams to the final round.

  1. Greenhill — 6
  2. Glenbrook North — 4
  3. Westminster — 4
  4. College Prep — 2
  5. Glenbrook South — 2
  6. St. Mark’s — 2
  7. Bellarmine — 1
  8. Caddo Magnet — 1
  9. Centerville — 1
  10. Chattahoochee — 1
  11. Colleyville Heritage — 1
  12. Katy Taylor — 1
  13. Lexington — 1
  14. Montgomery Bell Academy — 1
  15. Pace Academy — 1
  16. Woodward Academy — 1

In total, 16 schools have advanced to the final round with only six schools doing so multiple times.

Schools With The Most Consecutive Years Appearing In The Final Round

Only three schools have made back-to-back appearances in the final round.

  1. College Prep (2003-2004)
  2. Greenhill (1997-1998)
  3. Westminster (2009-2010)

Schools With The Most Championships

Glenbrook North has won four of the last fifteen championships. During that span, Westminster is the only team to win back-to-back titles (in 2009 and 2010).

  1. Glenbrook North — 4 (2007, 2004, 2001, 1996)
  2. Greenhill — 3 (2008, 2006, 2000)
  3. Westminster — 3 (2010, 2009, 2005)
  4. Caddo Magnet — 1 (1997)
  5. College Prep — 1 (2003)
  6. Glenbrook South — 1 (1998)
  7. Montgomery Bell Academy — 1 (1999)
  8. Pace Academy — 1 (2002)

Of the eight schools that have won a championship, five are private and three are public (one of which is a magnet school).

Schools With The Most Elimination Round Wins

Greenhill and Greenhill have both won 25 elimination rounds in the last fifteen seasons.

  1. Greenhill — 25
  2. Glenbrook North — 25
  3. Westminster — 21
  4. College Prep — 13
  5. Glenbrook South — 13
  6. Caddo Magnet — 11
  7. St. Mark’s — 10
  8. Lexington — 9
  9. Woodward Academy — 9
  10. Colleyville Heritage — 7
  11. Pace Academy — 7
  12. Centerville — 6
  13. Chattahoochee — 6
  14. Montgomery Bell Academy — 6
  15. Kinkaid — 5

Greenhill vs. Glenbrook North

Greenhill and Glenbrook North have met five times in the elimination rounds since 1996; Glenbrook North holds the edge in those match-ups, 3-2.

  1. 1997, Octafinals: Greenhill d. Glenbrook North
  2. 2000, Octafinals: Glenbrook North d. Greenhill
  3. 2003, Octafinals: Glenbrook North d. Greenhill
  4. 2003, Semifinals: Greenhill d. Glenbrook North
  5. 2007, Semifinals: Glenbrook North d. Greenhill

The data used in this review was compiled from many sources including e-Debate and CX-L postings by Dr. J.W. Patterson. Almost all of it is now (or will soon be) available in The 3NR Results Archive.

28 thoughts on “The Run For The Roses: Breaking Down The Tournament of Champions, 1996-2010

  1. Anon

    Glenbrook North's current streak is from 2006-2010 not 2007-2010. It's currently at 5 years running. Their earlier streak was also from 1996-2004 not 1996-2003.

    1. Bill Batterman Post author

      Wow, good catch. I accidentally omitted the semifinalists from 2006 (Glenbrook North and Lexington) — that changed a lot of the results. The post is now corrected.

    1. Bill Batterman Post author

      Indeed, but the correction means that GBN and Greenhill are neck-and-neck in almost every category. So way to go Greenhill AND GBN! 🙂

  2. Anon

    who is the other utah team that's cleared at the TOC? I know rowland cleared in 2008 and 2010, which other team did?

  3. Anonymous

    If different posters are posting as anonymous they should spell the name differently to help us tell who is who.

    1. Casual reader

      Caddo was great from mid-80s through 2004 or so. The school, especially in the mid to late 90s, produced great debaters — Andy Ryan, Jarrod Atchison, Kamal Ghali, e.g.– and won TOC in 1997. but there must have been a loss of interest or resources or coaching because it has fallen from national prominence. Maybe it rocks Regional debate. I dunno.

      1. Becky

        I dont think Caddo ever had alot of money or resources, maybe they were just lucky for a long time until their luck ran out. Although they did last a little bit past ’04: Like I think they cleared like 3 teams at the TOC in ’05. And one of their ’06 grads, Sam, went on to debate for Wake and was in the Semis of the 2010 NDT, and one of their ’07 grads, RJ, debates for OU, and won CEDA Nats twice among other successes. The sun may have set on the old Caddo empire, but maybe their program will fire up again before too long. Who knows

  4. Anon

    anyone else find it a just a little sickening that only 16 schools have been in a finals round, and only 8 have ever won? Seems like there is something in the water at those places, that something probably rhymes with honey and starts with a "m".

    1. bob

      true, definitely true, but without a doubt-it has to do w/ hard work as well. But, no one is going deny that there is a big disparity-its the same with any competition-even in basketball -the lakers and celtics have won a majority of the championships

      1. che god damned guevera

        someone’s mad they’re only successful because they happened to be born in the right place

    2. Ana

      Even if you believe that is the case, it's not a reason to discredit the hard work that many national-circuit successful teams put into debate. They are all great debaters and deserve fully to be at the TOC. The fact that many public schools, many who do not necessary fund large amounts of money into debate, rely on fundraising and other methods to fund their travel. Additionally, small schools do make it to the TOC, but because they have smaller squads (and many years perhaps only one or two competitive teams), they make up a smaller fraction of TOC-finals teams. Again, these small schools should not be discredited. Everyone who has competed at the TOC deserves credit for the amount of work they put in, and their schools shouldn't carry the connotation of simply fueling their debaters' success with cash.

    3. Stephen Pipkin

      I also don't think those numbers are shocking given it's only over a 14 year period. I imagine the numbers are comparable with most other resource-heavy activities at the high school level.

    4. Anon21

      A total of 67 high schools have qualified at least one team to the elimination rounds.
      Public (Non-Magnet) — 119 rounds, 34 schools
      Private — 109 rounds, 16 schools
      Public (Magnet) — 21 rounds, 6 school

  5. anon

    all this proves is that economics may influence the chances of a school having sustainable repeated success. it doesn't deny any individual debater/team from reaching success.

    the biggest factor in repeated success of a school is how good the PROGRAM is and the biggest factor in an individual team's success is how good TALENTED they are

    undoubtably, money is a big part of how good a program is, but money has very little to do with how an individual team does

    1. Anon

      I was never implying that the individual debaters should be discredited. All those who have competed/won deserve their dues. It was only intended to show that there is a correlation between school wealth and success. The thing is that wealthy schools can hire the best and most coaches which not only makes the program better but it helps contextualize that talent individual debaters have. So credit should not be taken away from the individuals but i think the claim that money does not effect individual teams is wrong.

  6. guest

    In the "Schools With The Most Consecutive Years Appearing In The Quarterfinals Or Better" category Westminster and Caddo should be tied-
    6 — Westminster (2002-2007)- (02,03,04,05,06,07)
    6 — Caddo Magnet (1996-2001)- (96,97,98,99,00,01)

    1. Bill Batterman Post author

      The mistake was with the years, not the number of years — Caddo wasn't in the quarters in '96, so their streak is 5 ('97, '98, '99, '00, '01). They had two teams in the octas in '96 but both were defeated.

  7. Ben

    This may not be in the statistics, but it is pretty impressive for Chatahoochee to clear teams last year.

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