McKendree Speech and Debate Team Finishes Strong at Nationals

(LEBANON, Ill., March 31, 2016) — The McKendree University Speech and Debate Team participated in three national tournaments in the last few weeks, taking home nine awards.

“Our team performed very well at nationals,” said Joe Blasdel, coach. “Both the students and coaches did an incredible amount of work this year – and it definitely paid off.”

Representing McKendree at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE) and the National Parliamentary Debate Association Championship Tournament (NPDA) were sophomores Alex Baldwin and Gage Simmons, with coaches Brent Nicholson and Brad Thomas.

Thirty-five colleges and universities, including Rice University, the University of Oregon and Purdue University, attended NPTE on March 13-16 at El Camino College in Los Angeles. Despite not advancing at NPTE, Baldwin and Simmons split rounds with the University of California at Berkeley, California State University at Long Beach, and the University of Utah.

Fifty-five colleges and universities, including the U.S. Air Force Academy, Tulane University, and the University of California at Berkeley, attended NPDA on March 18-21 at California State University at Long Beach. After advancing to elimination rounds with a 5-3 record, Baldwin and Simmons defeated the University of Oregon in triple-octofinals. They finished as double-octofinalists, placing 17th in a field of 163 teams, after losing a 2-1 decision to Washburn University, the second-ranked team in the country.

Representing McKendree at Pi Kappa Delta (PKD) were juniors Dylan Comer, Katie Reining and Taylor Rossi; sophomores Beth Graham, Kaitlyn Hutchison, David Junge, Adam Kaul and Hannah Zickefoose; and first-years Justin Fausz, Adeja Powell, Aliyah Smith, Andrew Wagner and Emma Webster, joined by coaches Lance Allen, Joe Blasdel, Nik Fischer and Stephen Hagan. Eighty-seven colleges and universities, including Northwestern, Marshall and Penn State, attended PKD on March 16-20 at the University of Kentucky.

Reining advanced to quarterfinals in after dinner speaking. After winning her quarterfinal round, she finished as a semifinalist, seventh in a field of 96 competitors. The duo interpretation team of Comer and Webster advanced as well, finishing as quarterfinalists. Additionally, Zickefoose placed as a quarterfinalist in two events – poetry interpretation and programmed oral interpretation – as well as taking home an excellent award in after dinner speaking. Also receiving excellent awards were Comer and Webster, in programmed oral interpretation and prose interpretation, respectively. Wagner took 10th place in interviewing. In debate, the team of Graham and Powell, as well as Kaul debating solo, finished 3-3, just missing the break to elimination rounds.

The McKendree speech and debate team will complete its season at the National Forensic Association Championship Tournament on April 13-18.


Photo of McKendree University debaters Gage Simmons and Alex Baldwin at NPDA.

McKendree University debaters Gage Simmons and Alex Baldwin at NPDA.


Photo of McKendree Speech & Debate Team

Competing at the Pi Kappa Delta national tournament for McKendree University were, front row, Beth Graham, Aliyah Smith, Katie Reining, Hannah Zickefoose and Adeja Powell; back row, Kaitlyn Hutchison, Andrew Wagner, Taylor Rossi, Adam Kaul, David Junge, Emma Webster and Dylan Comer.