Husker speech and debate team wins Big Ten title

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Husker speech and debate team wins Big Ten title

Big 10 Speech
Huskers who competed at the Big Ten Tournament are (from left) Olivia Klein, Mia Virgillito, Wesley Deuel, Linnea Pietsch, Ben Czapla, Adison Cassity, Tyler Walvoord, Madison Morrissette, Clinton Lowe, Madison Imig and Cole Shardelow.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln speech and debate team became eight-time Big Ten champions with a victory at the annual conference tournament Nov. 9-10 at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Nebraska captured first place in a conference that has a long tradition of academic excellence and distinction in speech and debate. Purdue took second place, while Northwestern University placed third.

In addition to the team championship, Huskers also captured multiple individual Big Ten Tournament titles. Nebraska was led by a trio of senior co-captains: Wesley Deuel of Woodbury, Minnesota; Madison Morrissette of Omaha; and Mia Virgillito of Gretna, who combined to win conference honors in seven of 11 events offered at the tournament.

“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,” Deuel said. “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.”

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 prose interpretation and program oral interpretation.

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

Speech and debate is the oldest student activity at Nebraska, which is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding in 2019.

“We have great history of speech and debate here at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, dating back 149 years,” Aaron Duncan, director of speech and debate, said. “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, said: “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.”

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 Whitewater, Wisconsin, in April 2020. Nebraska will host the American Forensic Association’s National Speech Tournament in 2021.

Speech and debate is sponsored by the Department of Communication Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. Learn more.

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