Speech and Debate Team earns historic success at national tournaments

Photo Credit: Speech and Debate team
by Aaron Duncan Wed, 04/21/2021 - 15:26

Debate team. Back row: Nick McConnell, Salman Djingueinabaye, Amber Tannehill, Jeremiah Agyakye, Andromede Uwase. Front Row: Dr. Justin Kirk, Gregory Quick, Addisson Stugart, Morgan McGee. Not pictured: Nicholas Wallenberg and Graduate Assistant Tyler Behymer.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Speech and Debate Team capped the team’s most unusual season in team history with historic success. The Debate Team finished in second place in Lincoln Douglas at the National Forensic Association’s Tournament held online April 16-19. The national runner-up finish was the highest in the team’s 150 year history. The Speech Team finished in sixth place at the American Forensic Association’s National Speech Tournament, which took place online April 2-5.

The Debate Team was led by senior Addisson Stugart of Omaha and sophomore Nicholas Wallenburg of Lenexa, Kansas who both finished 7-2 and each advanced to the quarterfinal round of the tournament. This was the first time the university has had two students in the top 8 at the National Tournament. They were joined in elimination rounds by fellow senior Morgan McGee of Saint Augustine, Florida and junior Gregory Quick of Egan, Minnesota.

This was the fourth consecutive year Nebraska has finished in the top five in the nation in Lincoln Douglas Debate and the eleventh consecutive year the team has finished in the top 15.

Speech Team

Speech team. (back row, from left) Allison Bonander, coach, Cassidy Stefka, coach, Kendra Quiroz, Victoria Thomas, Jake Garlock, Zoey Moser, Madison Imig, Roger Allen, (middle row, from left) Jennica Boardman, Cole Shardelow, Benjamin Czapla, Olivia Klein, Alia Ganic, Eliana Siebe-Walles, Aaron Duncan, coach, (front row, from left) Sydney Brun-Ozuna, Darian Draft, Juliana Quattrocchi, Tasneem Ali, Clare Frances Kennedy, Philomena Williams, (sitting) Tyler Walvoord, Janana Khattak, Madeline Stoerp and Adison Cassity.

"It’s a really incredible result given the year that we have gone through and the journey to get here," Justin Kirk, director of debate, said, "and I could not be prouder of them.”

The team’s success in debate comes on the heels of its achievements earlier this month at the National Speech Tournament. The tournament was highlighted by junior Clare Frances Kennedy of Franklin, Tennessee who placed fourth in Impromptu Speaking, sixth in Dramatic Interpretation, and was the eighth overall speaker at the tournament.

Other students placing at the tournament included senior Cole Shardelow of Hastings who placed seventh in Impromptu Speaking, senior Kendra Quiroz of Hastings who placed tenth in Poetry Interpretation and eighth in Duo Interpretation with partner Philomena Williams of Kansas City, Missouri and junior Ben Czapla of Lincoln who placed ninth in Informative Speaking and tenth in Duo Interpretation with Kennedy.

“We are so fortunate to work with such motivated and passionate students every day," Allison Bonander, director of speech, said. "I am beyond proud of the way this team has pulled together, pushed themselves and each other to be better and have their voices heard. ”

Shardelow and fellow senior Sydney Brun-Ozuna of Fort Worth, Texas were named at the tournament to the National All-American Team.

The sixth place finish was the second highest in team history.

"This a special group of students," Aaron Duncan, director of the team, said. "The pandemic turned our activity upside down this year. Tournaments moved online, coaching took place through Zoom, and our team room had to be closed to ensure social distancing.

"It is hard to create a positive team culture and bond when students cannot see each other in person for most of the year, but these students persevered. They demonstrated exceptional grit and it has resulted in a wonderful season that brought glory to themselves and their university.”

The university's team is one of two in the nation to rank in the top ten in both Speech and Lincoln Douglas Debate.

"Our success is the direct result of the support from the Department of Communication Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, alumni, and the Chancellor’s Office," Duncan said. "We are lucky to have university administration and a community on campus that values and supports the work these students have done.”

The Speech and Debate Team is part of the university’s Department of Communication Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. The department explores human communication as it shapes and is shaped by relationships, institutions and societies. Its main areas of expertise are interpersonal and family communication, organizational communication, and rhetoric and public culture.

Edited by CAS.