Truman Forensics Concludes Season with Strong Showings at National Tournament

The Truman Forensic Union competed in its final tournament of the 2008-2009 season in nearby Springfield, Mo., April 16-20, attending the National Forensic Association Championship Tournament co-hosted by Missouri State University and Drury University. Eleven Truman competitors were among more than 1,300 entries from 68 colleges and universities that attended this year’s championships.

Truman finished sixth overall in the nation in Lincoln-Douglas debate, falling a mere one point below the threshold for the fifth place sweepstakes cup. Freshman Christian Johns finished the preliminary rounds with a 5-1 record and reached the octafinals, or “sweet sixteen” of the tournament before being eliminated by a debater from California’s University of the Pacific. Freshman Ben Reid was just behind him with a 4-2 preliminary round record. He also reached the octafinals and was eliminated by an eventual tournament semifinalist from Western Kentucky University. The national championship went to Creighton University. Truman’s overall performance in Lincoln-Douglas debate placed them ahead of the University of Central Missouri, the University of Nebraska, Ohio State University and Emerson College, among others.

“Having two freshmen in the tournament’s sweet sixteen is an outstanding accomplishment,” said Kevin Minch, associate professor of communication and out-going director of forensics. “It should be noted that nearly the entire team’s contingent this year was composed of freshmen. For a rebuilding year, we’re rebuilding fast.”

Among others qualifying for nationals and representing Truman at the tournament were freshmen Rachel Cook, Andrew Grojean, Elizabeth Hatting, Melissa Kapitan, Emily Wagman, Chris Wall, Erin Williamson, and sophomores Sarah Backhaus and Barbara Gillard.

A few weeks ago, from March 27-31, Truman completed its parliamentary debate season during the National Parliamentary Debate Association Championships at the University of the Pacific with a single team advancing to elimination rounds. Junior Mark Buchheit and senior Chris Girouard had a 6-2 preliminary round record and earned a bye through the first elimination round before being eliminated at the triple-octafinal level. Girouard was also honored as one of only five students nationally with the NPDA Academic All-American Award. This is the third consecutive year that Truman students have received this honor.

While the team’s competitive season has concluded, their work has not ended.  Backhaus and Gillard will represent the program in exhibition debates and an international friendship tournament in Beijing and Xi’an, China, May 6-26 and graduating senior, Christopher Girouard, will represent the program on a tour of Japan this June.

The Truman Forensic Union is open to any student interested in debate or individual speaking and interpretation events. It will be coached in the 2009-2010 season by Kristi Scholten ( and Russell Luce ( Students interested in joining the program are encouraged to contact them for more information.

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