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Cumberlands’ Debate Team Wins State Tournament


Williamsburg, Ky. – For the fifth consecutive year, University of the Cumberlands Speech and Debate Team took top honors in individual events for the small school division at the Kentucky Forensics Association State Tournament held in Berea, Kentucky. Twelve members of Cumberlands team received twenty-nine awards, which is a new squad record in state competition. The team also placed second in the Grand Champion Sweepstakes (combined individual events and debate point totals) to National Champions Western Kentucky University.

Coach Jay Bourne said, “I am really pleased with the quality of competition our team was able to demonstrate at the state tournament this year—both in individual events and in debate.”

The debate team received twelve awards, with two of the three teams in competition reaching quarterfinals. The team of freshman duos Danny Lunsford, from Harlan, Ky., and Jamie Gregory, from Elkhart, Ind., narrowly lost their quarterfinal round on a 2-1 judge’s decision to Western Kentucky University.

The other quarterfinalist freshman team of Tim Riley, of Georgetown, Ky., and Andy Wolfe, of Escondido, Calif., also lost their round on a 2-1 decision to a team from Western Kentucky University. The team of Riley and Wolfe also received the Top Novice Award for best team at the state competition. Additionally, the team dominated the category of novice speaker awards by wining five of the six awards given out to competitors in their first year of debate competition.

Senior Todd Petzold, from Owensboro, Ky., was the fifth place speaker. Gregory placed fourth, Wolfe placed third, Lunsford placed second, and Kacie Shantz, a sophomore from Stafford, Va., was named State Champion Debate speaker. In debate sweepstakes, the team placed second overall in the small school division to Berea College.

In individual events, the team received over sixteen individual awards. Joe Owens, a sophomore from Hindman, Ky., had five of his six events win trophies. Owens won the state championship, receiving first place, in dramatic interpretation. Additionally, Owens was a finalist with Kelly Mason, a sophomore from Florence, Ky., in duo interpretation, seventh in after dinner speaking, fourth in poetry, fourth in program oral interpretation, and sixth place overall in pentathlon (overall individual competition in individual events).

Jamie Gregory won Top Novice Award in pentathlon, and both the Top Novice Award and State Champion in after diner speaking, winning first place. Jennifer Underdown, sophomore from Athens, Tenn., placed sixth in prose interpretation and was Top Novice in duo interpretation with Junior Aaron Leftwich, of Clearwater, Fla. Andy Wolfe received both the Top Novice award and seventh place in persuasive speaking. Leftwich received the Top Novice Award in Duo Interpretation with Underdown. Tori Hatcher from Williamsburg, Ky., also contributed to the team sweepstakes totals.

Bourne said, “In individual events, we were able to win fist place in our division for the fifth straight year. On the debate side, we weren’t able to have some of our top debate teams compete this weekend, so to have us do as well as we did is a great testament to how much our first year team members have been improving. We were the only college to have two novice teams in quarterfinals. I am particularly pleased the debate team won five of the six speaker awards. So far this year we have won 99 awards, and we look forward to going over 100 at our national tournaments next month.”

University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Ky., is a private liberal arts university in its 117th year of operation. UC offers four undergraduate degrees in 37 major fields of study, 30 minors and nine pre-professional programs, as well as online and accelerated, non-traditional programs for adults.