The University of Nebraska–Lincoln speech team placed 12th in the nation at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament on April 7-9.
The event included 63 schools and 500 students vying for top honors. The finish marked the 23rd consecutive season Nebraska was ranked in the top 20.
Only the top 10 percent of student speakers nationally qualify to compete at the national tournament and only the top 15 percent of those select students advance to elimination rounds. The Nebraska team qualified 20 students in 61 national tournament events. Six Huskers advanced to elimination rounds.
Nebraska students who competed in the elimination rounds include: Becca Human in extemporaneous speaking, after-dinner speaking and communication analysis; Mattison Merritt in prose interpretation and dramatic interpretation; Madison Morrissette in extemporaneous speaking; Tia Rasmussen in poetry interpretation; Mia Virgillito in prose interpretation; and Jordan Duffin Wong in communication analysis.
Merritt is one of 12 seniors named to the national All-American speech team. The award is based on a student’s academic excellence, speech performance and community service.
Other team members to qualify include: Sam Baue, Jennica Boardman, Wesley Deuel, Guadalupe Esquivel, Aaron Furrow, Turner Jensen, Chloe Meier, Jack Militti, Samantha Moore, Andrew Phares, Ethan Pytlik, Kendra Quiroz, Taylor Riemersma and Cole Shardelow.
Mallory Marsh, a graduate student in communication studies and graduate assistant coach for the speech team, received the American Forensics Association’s Outstanding New Coach award. She previously served as director of speech and debate at Bethel College in Newton, Kansas.
Additional season highlights include the speech and debate team’s win at the Conference Challenge Tournament at Northwestern University. The victor marked Nebraska’s seventh-straight Big Ten Conference title.
“We are fortunate to the support of a great institution of higher learning behind us,” said Aaron Duncan, assistant professor of practice in communication studies and program director for speech and debate. “The accomplishments and achievements of the team are made possible by the tremendous support we receive from the Department of Communication Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, alumni, Chancellor (Ronnie) Green, and the university’s commitment to recruiting the best and brightest student speakers from across the state and nation.”