Debate and Forensics

Written by on March 29, 2019

A trip through the Fitzpatrick Hall of Fine Arts will tell you everything you’ll read here in fewer words; excellence is a tradition; one that Kansas Wesleyan upholds in spades. While it may go under the radar, Kansas Wesleyan is known in certain circles for a continuous streak of national championship caliber competition, and this year was no exception. While some students snorkeled in the Gulf of Mexico over spring break this year, a small group of highly dedicated students were busy becoming champions. Every year Pi Kappa Delta and the National Christian College Forensics Association each host a tournament aimed at recognizing the highest performing students in collegiate competitive speaking. It came as no surprise that this year Kansas Wesleyan had a number of students distinguish themselves among that field.

            That National Christ College Forensics Invitational (NCCFI) was held this year at none other than Kansas Wesleyan University. Students came from as far as California to try their hands at one of the most competitive debate and forensics tournaments in the world. If you’ve never seen a forensics tournament then full scope of the event will be hard to picture, but if you’ll imagine for a second March Madness compressed into a single weekend you’ll get the barest hint of how hectic a national forensics tournament can be. Unlike basketball, forensics is largely an individual activity. Students compete in individual events (IE), where they perform selected pieces, in front of one to three judges. They are then ranked against up to six other competitors who would have also competed in the same room. Each competitor does this three to five times a day per event. Some students bring upwards of five events, which means that they are performing upwards of 25 times a day.

            This is the stage on which several Kansas Wesleyan students found themselves recently. Between the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive and National Christian College Forensics Invitational, Kansas Wesleyan brought home more than twenty top six finishes with multiple national champions. At NCCFI, Joshua Davis, who competed with a student from Bethel College, tied for 4rdplace in parliamentary debate. In the same event, the team of Bryce Boyd and Cassity Morlan tied for 3rdplace. The team of Autumn Zimmerman and Megan Kline were crowned National Champions. Bryce Boyd made additional appearances in novice extemporaneous speaking and novice impromptu speaking; he was named national champion in both events. Megan Kline was awarded a national championship in varsity extemporaneous speaking, and Autumn Zimmerman a runner-up. In varsity prose Cassity Morlan placed 5thand in varsity  communication analysis Megan Kline was the runner up. Megan Kline was also able to capture a 6thplace finish in varsity Impromptu. Overall, Autumn Zimme3rman finished as the 6thbest performer (cumulatively) in both debate and individual events at NCCFI.

            Pi Kappa Delta, often considered the more competitive of the two tournaments, was hosted by Hofestra University in New York this year. Students flew to New York fresh off a sterling performance at NCCFI with hopes of continued success. They weren’t disappointed. In impromptu speaking Kline and Boyd were awarded Excellence, given only to the top 10% of performers. In poetry Zimmerman placed 9th. Zimmerman was awarded excellence in extemporaneous speaking, whereas Boyd was awarded 5thand Kline was named the runner-up. Kline was awarded 3rdplace in communication analysis and the teams of Morlan/Boyd and Zimmerman/Kline tied for 3rdplace in parliamentary debate. Out of 71 schools, of varying size, Kansas Wesleyan placed 15thoverall.

            One student was able to capture the most elusive prize of all this year. Autumn Zimmerman was named an All-American for the first time in her life. All-American students are chosen on a basised off their academic record, the slew of recommendations they are able to acquire, and the services they have rendered to their community. Autumn attributes her success to her coach, Gary Harmon, saying that “Without Harmon, I would have never believed that I could do it. When I first joined KWU’s debate team, the first thing he said to me was that I was going to be an All-American. I had no idea what he meant, but I told him that I’d do it. “  It might have her entire collegiate career, but that was a promise she was able to keep.

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