McKendree Speech and Debate Opens Spring with Strong Performances

Lebanon, Ill. — The McKendree University speech and debate team began its spring semester of competition with strong performances at the University of Utah’s Mile High Swing and Webster University’s Gorlok Gala. The team reached quarterfinals in debate at Mile High and advanced in six events to finals at the Gorlok.

“It was a great start to the spring,” said Joe Blasdel, speech and debate coach. “I think it gives a lot of momentum heading into the final stretch of the regular season and nationals.”

McKendree competed against 30 other colleges and universities, including the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Oregon, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Rice University at the Mile High Swing on Jan. 18-20. It is the biggest regular season parliamentary debate tournament. Representing McKendree were seniors Brent Nicholson and Brad Thomas, currently the 13th ranked team in the nation, from a field of 621 teams. They have accepted a first-round bid to the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence.

At the first half of the tournament, Nicholson and Thomas posted a 4-1 record. After receiving a bye in triple-octofinals, they defeated the University of Puget Sound in double-octofinals. They lost to the University of Oregon in octofinals. Thomas was recognized as the 20th best speaker in a field of 192 debaters.

At the second half of the tournament, Nicholson and Thomas went 3-2. After beating the University of Texas in triple-octofinals, they bested the University of Oregon in double-octofinals, avenging their earlier loss. They then ousted regional rival William Jewell in octofinals. Nicholson and Thomas finished as quarterfinalists after losing to Lewis and Clark College.

McKendree sent eight students to Webster University’s Gorlok Gala on Jan. 24-26. Students competed from 44 colleges and universities, including Ohio State University, Purdue and Truman State. Representing McKendree were juniors Rebecca Blake, Josh Fleming, and Spencer Marcum; sophomores Tyler Jewell, Cassie Kuberski, and Rodney McBride; and first-years Mary Makarishcheva and Katie Reining.

Fleming advanced to finals in four events – duo improvisation and duo interpretation (both with Blake), programmed oral interpretation, and duo improvisation (with Jewell). He took third place in programmed oral interpretation, qualifying him for the American Forensic Association’s National Individual Events Tournament in April. Fleming and Blake took second in duo interpretation and third in duo improvisation. Fleming and Jewell placed fifth in duo improvisation.

Marcum took first place in programmed oral interpretation, his third win of the year and second consecutive win at the Gorlok. He was sixth in informative speaking. McKendree also received four excellent awards – Marcum in poetry, prose, and drama; and Fleming in impromptu.

Individual events competitors Marcum and Fleming qualified for nationals in programmed oral interpretation.

McKendree will compete at Murray State University on Feb. 8-9.