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Speech and Debate Team Defends State Champions Title

The Speech and Debate Team defended its state championship title when Belmont University hosted the Tennessee Intercollegiate Forensics State Tournament. Eight teams participated in the competition on Feb. 16 and 17. Belmont placed first in the tournament overall for the second year in a row. Belmont students won several individual event categories, including Rhetorical Criticism and Impromptu Speaking. Their success was a product of weeks of preparation.

Each week, students meet both for individual and team practices. During the practices, varsity students returning to the team mentored novice students. Communication studies instructor and the team’s adviser Jason Stahl said the team used rehearsals and strategy to achieve its success the team

Each competition day, the team assembled in gravel lot behind Kennedy Hall and danced around a car to energize themselves for the day of competition ahead. After the dance party, students split up for their individual events before reconvening at the awards ceremony.

This year, there was even more pressure on the team to be gracious hosts while beating their competition. They succeeded in both endeavors. Following the competition, a number of universities emailed Stahl and praised the quality of the tournament, he said.

Several Speech and Debate students are preparing for the American Forensics Association National Tournament. In order to qualify for entry into the national competition, students must qualify in  a certain number of tournaments each year. This year, Belmont will send four students to the national tournament.

1st place open debate team – Lisa Secsinski / Nicole Bright
Semi-finalist open debate team – Matthew Roberts
Quarter-finalist novice debate team – Grant Moore / Max Shenfield
1st place individual open debate speaker – Matthew Roberts
1st place individual novice debate speaker – Jake Townsend
6th place individual novice debate speaker – Matt Zaloba


Individual Events
Matthew Roberts: Rhetorical Criticism-1st, Impromptu Speaking-1st, Informative Speaking-1st,
  Extemp Speaking-2nd, Persuasion-2nd, Duo Interp-4th, After Dinner Speaking-5th, 1st place overall speaker
Nicole Bright: Programmed Oral Interp-1st, Duo Interp-1st, Poetry-2nd, Prose-2nd, Impromptu Speaking-2nd,
  Dramatic Interp-3rd, 3rd place overall speaker
Megan Jack: Informative Speaking-2nd, Persuasion-3rd, Poetry-5th, Programmed Oral Interp-5th, Rhetorical
  Criticism-5th, 4th place overall speaker
Jake Townsend: Persuasion-5th & Top Novice, Impromptu Speaking-4th
Emily Ann Cowart: Duo Interp-4th
Matthew Zaloba: Extemp Speaking-6th
Matthew Shenfield: Informative Speaking-6th & Top Novice
Team Awards
Individual Events-1st place team
Debate-3rd place team
Overall Team-1st place

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