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Speech and Debate Team National Champions in Debate


Pictured L to R: (back) Sara Straub, Taylor Bowman, Joe Owens, Tim Riley, Chris Felder, Danny Lunsford (front) Jamie Gregory, Andy Wolfe. Not pictured: Ellie Rink, Laura Bradford

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – On March 7-10, 2007, twelve members of the University of the Cumberlands speech and debate team competed at the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament and Convention held on the campus of Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Amongst a field of 57 teams from across the nation, the squad placed second in the Southeast Province (all schools in the southeast United States) and received 13 awards.

Coach Jay Bourne said, “This was an amazing experience for the team and a great way for us to end the year.”

In debate, the team received an excellent award in sweepstakes, and in parliamentary debate placed fifth overall in the nation, ranking ahead of teams including Murray State University, Southwest Baptist University, Transylvania University, Truman State University and William Carey University.

Additionally, the junior varsity team of sophomore Tim Riley of Georgetown and sophomore Jamie Gregory of Elkhart, Ind., were national champions in parliamentary debate. The duo placed first against a field of over thirty teams. Receiving excellent awards for their preliminary rounds, the team defeated Southern Idaho in the quarterfinal round, Boise State in semifinals and a unanimous judge’s decision over McKendree College in finals, where the Cumberlands team successfully debated the topic of military tribunals.

Also, the team of senior Sara Straub of Florence and sophomore Danny Lunsford of Harlan received superior awards for their preliminary round competition and placed fourth against a field of nearly fifty teams in their division. The team reached the quarterfinal round; where they lost to a Boise State team who went on to reach finals.

Finally, sophomore Andy Wolfe of Escondido, Calif., narrowly missed outrounds in individual parliamentary debate with a four-two record in preliminary rounds. The novice team of freshmen Chris Felder of Detroit, Mich., and freshman Taylor Bowman of Escondido, Calif., also contributed points to team sweepstakes.

In individual events, junior Joe Owens of Hindman received excellent awards in Radio Broadcasting, Program Oral Interpretation and Duo Interpretation with Jamie Gregory. Gregory also received an excellent award in duo interpretation. Other students who contributed to individual event sweepstakes included junior Ellie Rink from Adrian, Mich., and freshman Laura Bradford from Holland, Mich.

Pi Kappa Delta recognized the top thirty percent of the competitors in each individual event with good ratings. Individuals receiving good ratings included Joe Owens (After Dinner Speaking and Dramatic Interpretation), Andy Wolfe (Impromptu Speaking), Tim Riley (Informative Speaking), Laura Bradford (Radio Broadcasting and Duo) and Ellie Rink (Duo Interpretation). Finally, the team also placed eighth in the nation in Readers Theater, the first time the team has competed in this event.

Bourne said, “We won the most awards our school has ever received at Pi Kappa Delta nationals, placed fifth in the nation in parliamentary debate and also won the national championship in junior varsity debate. Finally, at the two national tournaments we have competed at this year, our squad had five national champions, which is another school record. To achieve these results against such quality programs across the nation reflects all of the hard work that our team has invested throughout the year, and I am proud of each member of our program.”