Forensics Team Continues Success

In the third competition of the season, members of the Truman Forensics Union traveled to Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and took second place in debate sweepstakes and fourth in overall team sweepstakes.

The team competed against numerous nationally competitive teams, including last year’s national champions in both individual events and debate, Western Kentucky University.

In open parliamentary debate, a two-on-two style of off-the-cuff debating, Sophomores Christian Johns and Elizabeth Hatting won their final round against competitors from Rice University. Juniors Sarah Backhaus and Dylan Clark advanced to the quarterfinal elimination round. Johns won a second place speaking award, Backhaus received fourth, Hatting won sixth, and Clark received tenth.

In Lincoln-Douglas debate, a one-on-one policy style of debating, Clark advanced to the quarterfinal round of open competition, while Johns advanced to octofinals. Backhaus, while not advancing, did receive an eighth place speaking award in this event.

Not only did the varsity debaters do quite well, Truman was also able to debut new debate talent. In Novice Lincoln-Douglas, freshman Alex Clippinger advanced to the final round, taking second place. Freshman Susan Taylor made it into semi-finals, while freshman Katie Koenig advanced to quarterfinals. Clippinger also took a second place speaking award and Koenig a fifth place speaking award.

In individual events, there were two tournaments taking place on the same weekend. In the first tournament, freshman Jessica Petrie placed third in Impromptu Speaking and third in Extemporaneous Speaking. Sophomore Andrew Grojean placed fifth in both After Dinner Speaking and Prose Interpretation. Freshman Samantha Jones took sixth in Prose Interpretation, earning her another qualification for the National Championship Tournament at the end of the season.

This year, that national championship will take place in Athens, Ohio, and will only include competitors that have proven themselves by advancing to finals at a large tournament. Students have to qualify each event that they have in order to participate in that event at Nationals.

The second individual events tournament saw freshman Kyle LaVelle receive sixth in Impromptu Speaking, which earned him a qualification for nationals. Petrie topped her Extemporaneous award from the day prior, receiving second place. This brings the team’s total qualification for nationals up to 13, with more than half the competitive season still remaining.

“This tournament was a success across the board,” said Russ Luce, assistant forensics director. “With competitors in the final round in both Parliamentary and Junior Varsity Lincoln-Douglas debate, as well as competitors in out rounds in both forms of debate and individual events, the team exceeded our expectations for this competitive tournament. As this was our first time traveling as a full squad this semester. I think we showed the rest of the community the powerful bite that the Truman State University Bulldogs Forensics team carries.”

November will find the individual events’ competitors facing one of their toughest challenges of the season, the Bradley University tournament. The team travels to Peoria, Ill., the first weekend in November. 

“Nationals is tough because it is so large and has a certain quality of competition,” said Kristi Scholten, director of forensics. “However, the Bradley tournament is in some ways more competitive because the quality of competition is more concentrated. You have fewer rounds, up against the best of the best in the Nation, to prove yourself. We still have such a young individual events squad—all freshman and sophomores—and Bradley will certainly be an amazing learning experience for them…and I am confident that we will have a few break-through performances there as well.”

The same weekend that the Individual Events team travels to Bradley, the Junior Varsity debaters will travel to Central Missouri University to compete in Lincoln-Douglas, while the Varsity Lincoln-Douglas squad will participate in the Westminster Debate Society’s commemoration of Winston Churchill in Fulton, Mo., at the Winston Churchill Museum.

Anyone interested in competing in forensics should contact Scholten at


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