Speech and Debate team earns second Big Ten title

UNL Big Ten champion Speech and Debate team.
UNL Big Ten champion Speech and Debate team.

UNL Speech and Debate became two-time champions of the Big Ten Conference with its victory at the Conference Challenge Tournament Oct. 13-14 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. UNL's Speech and Debate took first-place honors at the same tournament last fall and earned a place in the record books as the first organization on campus to capture a Big Ten title.

This year, UNL led the field with a two-day point total of 190, ahead of the University of Illinois, which grabbed second place with 56 points, and tournament host Northwestern University with 53 points.

"I am extremely proud of the hard work and effort our students and coaches put in to prepare this competition,” said Aaron Duncan, Speech and Debate director. “None of the students on our team receive full-ride scholarships, none of them will be drafted into the professional ranks. They compete because of their love for this university and this activity."

In addition to the championship in a conference that has a long tradition of academic excellence and excellence in speech and debate, UNL students captured seven individual Big Ten titles. Students winning conference championships included senior Lauren Schaal of Omaha in persuasive speaking, senior Marc Otero of Lexington in program oral interpretation, junior Amanda Stoffel of Raymond in after-dinner speaking, junior Josh Planos of Omaha in poetry interpretation, junior Grace Kluck of Lincoln in dramatic interpretation, sophomore Reece Ristau of Omaha, and sophomore Josiah BeDunnah of Lexington in prose interpretation. BeDunnah and junior Roger Allen of Firth claimed victory in duo interpretation. Sophomore Jeff Garst of Omaha finished as the runner-up in the Lincoln-Douglas debate portion of the competition.

The organization is part of UNL's Department of Communication Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"The department is delighted at the success of these dedicated and talented student competitors," said Dawn O. Braithwaite, department chairperson. "We congratulate our outstanding director, Aaron Duncan, and all the coaches for their excellent work."

The Department of Communication Studies 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, go to http://comm.unl.edu.