UNL Speech and Debate Win 8th Big Ten Tournament Title

Photo Credit: The UNL Speech and Debate team posing for a group photo in hallway at Purdue University
Wed, 11/13/2019 - 10:52

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Speech and Debate Team became eight-time champions of the Big Ten with its victory at the conference's annual tournament, November 9-10, at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Nebraska captured first place, followed by host Purdue University and Northwestern University. In addition to the team championship, in a conference that has a long tradition of academic excellence and distinction in speech and debate, students also captured multiple individual Big Ten Tournament titles.

The team was led by a trio of senior co-captains: Wesley Deuel of Woodbury, Minnesota; Madison Morrissette of Omaha, Nebraska; and Mia Virgillito of Gretna, Nebraska. The three won conference honors in seven of the eleven events offered at the tournament. Deuel was named top individual speaker at the tournament and captured individual honors in poetry interpretation and duo interpretation along with partner Olivia Klein of Omaha. Morrissette was named the second overall speaker and Big 10 champion in communication analysis, persuasive speaking, and communication analysis. Virgillito capped off the group's efforts with titles in both prose interpretation and program oral interpretation.

UNL Speech and Debate Director Aaron Duncan summed up the team's performance. "We have a great history of speech and debate here at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, dating back 149 years. The students work hard, they sacrifice their weekends to compete and countless hours to prepare and we are very proud of them."

Allison Bonander, director of Speech, stated, "I'm deeply proud of the entire team, as this is a true testament to the work ethic and academic pursuit of every one of our students. We are lucky to work with some of the most dedicated students on campus."

Co-captain Deuel stated, "The Big Ten Tournament gives us the chance to compete against great teams and showcase what we have worked so hard to craft thus far. Having the honor of being a part of the Big Ten winning team is very special, and a highlight of my undergraduate career. Speech gives us the chance to tell our stories, and it is a true gift to hear the stories of others as well."

Morrissette added, "I loved watching my younger teammates hold their own. Their success says a lot about the future of this team."

The students of both the speech and debate teams have been competing since September and are preparing for their national tournaments, which will be held in Santa Ana, California and in Whitewater, Wisconsin in April. In 2021, the university will host the American Forensics Association's National Speech Tournament.

For more information, contact director Aaron Duncan or department chair Dawn O. Braithwaite.