Forensics Kicks off Semester With Success in Texas

The Truman Speech and Debate Team participated in the Hell Froze Over invitational tournament Jan. 15-17 in Austin, Texas.

Co-hosted by the University of Texas and Bradley University, of Peoria, Ill., the tournament got its name more than 10 years ago because the schools were each others’ biggest debate rivals, and the coaches joked that no one would believe the two would host a tournament together. Hell Froze Over is now one of the most competitive tournaments, aside from nationals.

The tournament brought competitors from as far north as Wisconsin and as far west as California. With an average of 115 competitors per event, representing 40 schools, contestants must place in the top six to earn a spot in the finals.  

Competitors battled through preliminary rounds for a place in each event’s top 18 spots. Those 18 then compete in one of three semi-final sections, where they hope to earn a top two rating from the judges, sending them to the finals round.

Of the five Truman students in attendance at the tournament, the team achieved five out round breaks total. During the first competition, freshman Samantha Jones made it to the semi-finals in prose interpretation and freshman Kyle LaVelle made it to the semi-finals in impromptu speaking. During the second half of the competition, sophomore Andrew Grojean made it to semi-finals in prose interpretation, while LaVelle continued his success, qualifying for the semi-finals in extemporaneous speaking and the finals in impromptu speaking. LaVelle took home sixth place in impromptu speaking.

“The level of success that we were able to achieve at this incredibly competitive tournament is a sign of great things to come,” Kristi Scholten, director of Truman Forensics, said. “I only hope that we can carry this momentum and even build on it, as we move into the state and national championship tournaments.”

The team has one more invitational in January, this one at Webster University in St. Louis. Following that, the Forensics team has the state tournament and national tournament. The Truman Bulldogs currently have 13 students and 18 events qualified for the national tournament, but are hoping to increase those numbers.

Anyone interested in joining the team can contact Scholten at
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