The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Speech and Debate Team finished its 145th season on a high note with strong performances at national tournaments.
The UNL speech team placed ninth in the nation and first among all Big Ten teams at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) April 2-4 at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Seventy-four schools and 500 students competed at the tournament. UNL placed in the top 10 for the ninth straight year and in the top 20 for 21st straight year.
A highlight of the national tournament was the performance of senior Grace Solem-Pfeifer of Omaha, who placed fourth in After Dinner Speaking and 12th in the individual sweepstakes. She also earned a spot on the AFA-NEIT All-American Team, which is composed of 12 students who have demonstrated excellence in the classroom, their communities and in competitive speech.
“Grace is a dedicated, talented, intelligent student and the numerous awards she won at the tournament demonstrates all the hard work she puts into the activity,” Aaron Duncan, director of the UNL Speech and Debate program, said. “We have wonderful students and dedicated coaches here at UNL and I am proud of all of them.”
Only the top 10 percent of student speakers qualify to compete at the national tournament and only the top 15 percent of those competitors advance to elimination rounds. UNL had 19 students qualify for the tournament in 63 events and seven students advanced to elimination rounds. Two students placed among the top 10 in the nation in their event. In addition to Solem-Pfeifer’s fourth-place finish, she also placed 10th in Communication Analysis. Sophomore Erin Sheehan of Omaha placed ninth in Communication Analysis.
Representatives from UNL’s debate team competed at the National Forensics Association’s Tournament of Champions at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, April 14-18 and captured 14th place.
“We have a wonderful group of young debaters on the team committed to the ideals of argumentation and advocacy,” Duncan said. “If they continue to work hard and stay committed, there are no limits to what they can achieve.”
Each year, the top two persuasive speakers from each state are selected to compete at the National Interstate Oratory Competition. This year’s competition was April 23 and 24 at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Senior Kendra Nebel of Raymond represented UNL and Nebraska and placed 10th.
The Speech and Debate Team’s 2015-16 season also included a win at the Conference Challenge Tournament at Northwestern University, where the team claimed UNL’s fifth Big Ten victory.
The Speech and Debate Team is part of UNL’s Department of Communication Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. The department explores human communication as it shapes and is shaped by relationships, institutions and societies. Its main areas of expertise are interpersonal and family communication, organizational communication, and rhetoric and public culture. For more information on the department or the Speech and Debate Team, click here.