McKendree Speech and Debate Team Finishes Strong at Nationals

26 Awards in Five National Tournaments

(LEBANON, Ill., May 9, 2017) - The McKendree University Speech and Debate Team took home 26 awards from five national tournaments recently. In fact, McKendree was one of four schools – along with the University of California at Berkeley, Rice University, and Lewis and Clark College (Oregon) – to advance in debate at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence and in speech at the National Forensic Association Championship Tournament.

“This year’s success in both speech and debate is a testament to what we’re trying to do at McKendree – be one of the best comprehensive speech and debate programs in the nation,” said Program Director Joe Blasdel.

Twenty-one colleges and universities attended the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, hosted by the University of Colorado at Pueblo on March 18-21. Representing McKendree were juniors Alex Baldwin, Beth Graham and Gage Simmons, as well as sophomore Adeja Powell. Baldwin and Simmons posted a 7-5 record and finished in 25th place. Graham and Powell finished with an even record, placing 27th.

Graham and Powell also attended the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) Championship Tournament later that week and finished with an even record. McKendree took 18th place in season sweepstakes (of 179 NPDA programs).

Twenty-four colleges and universities attended the inaugural National Speech Championship, hosted by Northwestern University on March 25-26. Representing McKendree were seniors Dylan Comer, Katie Reining and Taylor Rossi; junior Emma Webster; sophomore Andrew Wagner; and first-years Grace Alexander, Kate Maag and Isa Scaturro. McKendree had 16 of 22 events advance at least to quarterfinals. In particular, Wagner advanced to finals in impromptu, taking fifth place. Finishing as semifinalists were Reining in persuasion, Alexander in prose, Scaturro in after dinner speaking, Comer in programmed oral interpretation, and Reining/Webster in duo. Stephen Hagan was also selected coach of the year. As a squad, McKendree finished in 10th place.

Later that week, McKendree attended the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament. McKendree students qualified and competed in seven events at the tournament – Reining in persuasion, communication analysis, and after dinner speaking; Wagner in informative, extemporaneous, and impromptu speaking; and Rossi in after dinner speaking.

Sixty-five colleges and universities attended the National Forensic Association (NFA) Championship Tournament, hosted by the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire on April 13-17. Representing McKendree were Comer, Reining, Rossi, Webster, Wagner, Alexander and Maag. Reining advanced to octofinals in two events – persuasion and communication analysis. Additionally, Webster finished as an octofinalist in drama as well as in duo, along with Comer. Overall, McKendree took 10th place in Division 1 sweepstakes and 21st in open sweepstakes.

“It’s been quite a while since we’ve advanced to elimination rounds at NFA,” said Hagan. “This was a huge step for us.”

McKendree concluded its 2016-17 year with its end-of-year celebration on May 1 and an exhibition debate on May 3 against Illinois College, the second oldest college in Illinois.


Debate Team at Nationals 2017

McKendree University debaters Alex Baldwin, Gage Simmons, Adeja Powell and Beth Graham.


Speech Team at Nationals 2017

Speech Team Coach Stephen Hagan, Andrew Wagner, Dylan Comer, Taylor Rossi, Kate Maag;

back row, Isa Scaturro, Katie Reining, Emma Webster and Grace Alexander.