McKendree Speech & Debate Finishes Regular Season Strong

Lebanon, Ill. — McKendree University’s speech and debate team finished its regular season with strong performances at the Missouri State Tournament and the Loyola National Warm-Up, taking home a total of 16 awards.

“This team has worked hard all year and it really showed this weekend,” said Joe Blasdel, speech and debate coach. “We had some incredible results, from Spencer Marcum winning three Missouri state championships to Mary Makarishcheva and Rodney McBride beating the top-ranked team in the nation. I couldn’t be more proud of our students and coaches."

Fifteen colleges and universities, including Truman State, Webster, and the University of Illinois attended the Missouri State Tournament, hosted by the University of Central Missouri on Feb. 14-15. Representing McKendree were juniors Rebecca Blake, Josh Fleming, and Spencer Marcum; sophomore Cassie Kuberski; and first-years Katie Reining and Taylor Rossi.

Marcum advanced to finals in four events. He took home the Missouri state championships in programmed oral interpretation, prose and poetry – the first state championships in program history. He also took third place in drama. Blake and Fleming advanced in duo and took second place. Fleming was fifth in programmed oral interpretation and sixth in after dinner speaking, while Blake was fifth in after dinner speaking. Marcum took second place in individual sweepstakes, while McKendree placed fifth as a squad.

As a result, McKendree qualified three more events for the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament: Marcum in poetry and prose, and Blake/Fleming in duo.

“This group has really bought into what we are teaching them and it shows with finishes like this,” said Stephen Hagan, coach. “We are a small team, but people know who we are and don’t like to see us in their rounds. As we grow next year it will only get better.”

Seniors Brent Nicholson and Brad Thomas, and first-years Mary Makarishcheva and Rodney McBride, competed in the National Warm-Up at Loyola University in Chicago on Feb. 14-16. Fifteen colleges and universities, including Texas Tech, Purdue, Rice and Tulane participated.

In the first half of the tournament, Nicholson and Thomas posted an even record. They finished as octofinalists after losing to Concordia University. Nicholson and Thomas took second and third place speaker awards, respectively.

In the second half, Nicholson and Thomas went 4-1, defeating Cedarville University in octofinals before losing to Southern Illinois University in quarterfinals. Makarishcheva and McBride also advanced to elimination rounds with a 3-2 record, beating the SIU’s top-ranked team in the first round. They lost to Texas Tech University and finished as octofinalists. Thomas and Nicholson were the fifth and sixth best speakers at the tournament, respectively. Nicholson and Thomas place second in the I-70 Sweepstakes Cup, based on their year-long success.

McKendree will compete in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence and National Parliamentary Debate Association Championship Tournament, both hosted by Northern Arizona University on March 14-24. The team will then attend the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament, hosted by Indiana University and Purdue University at Indianapolis on March 20-24. The team will close its season with the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament at Arizona State University on April 3-8.


Speech & Debate Team

McKendree University speech team members Rebecca Blake, Spencer Marcum

and Josh Fleming (seated); Katie Reining, Cassie Kuberski and Taylor Rossi


 Speech & Debate Team

McKendree University debaters Brad Thomas (front), Rodney McBride,

Mary Makarishcheva, Cory Freivogel, Mat Myles and Brent Nicholson