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UA speech and debate team brings home first state title


2016 Speech Team

Here are members of UA's speech and debate team, along with some of the coaches, holding awards won at the Ohio Forensic Association State Championship Tournament.

The University of Akron is now home to the best speech and debate program in the state of Ohio.

Members of the speech and debate team claimed UA’s first state title at the Ohio Forensic Association’s annual State Championship Tournament, held this past weekend at Capital University in Columbus.

Bowling Green State University, Ohio University, Cedarville University and The Ohio State University round out the top five teams.

Triumphs and firsts

The state championship was not the only “unprecedented feat” accomplished at the tournament, says Mark Rittenour, a senior college lecturer in the School of Communication who serves as the team’s head coach.

“For the first time in the history of the Ohio Forensic Association, one team, our University of Akron team, took five of the six spots in the final round of Duo Interpretation,” says Rittenour. “This is evidence of the top level of performances our UA students are giving in competition.”

Other firsts include:

  • UA winning the Team Sweepstakes Championship.
  • UA was the top-scoring team in both individual events (speech) and debate events.
  • UA won the first place quality award (best point-to-slot ratio) in the Open Division of competition.

The UA team also won the Cumulative Sweepstakes Founders Trophy for the first time since 2012.

Junior Kelsey Jones, integrated marketing communication, set a league record by becoming the state champion in five individual events — After Dinner Speaking, Dramatic Interpretation, Duo Interpretation, Program of Oral Interpretation and Prose Interpretation. Jones also placed in the final round of two other events.

UA student headed to national tournament

For the second year in a row, junior Abby Zerull, public relations, won the Trithon State Championship, a ranking designating the top overall speaker in all three genre of individual events. Zerull also is the state champion in Extemporaneous Speaking and placed in the final round of five other events, including second place in Persuasive Speaking.

Zerull is one of two Ohio students who will compete at the Interstate Oratorical Association National Tournament, to be held in April at the University of Nebraska Omaha. This is the second consecutive year that UA will be represented at the oldest national public speaking competition, now in its 142nd year.

Senior Alyssa Gieseck, interpersonal and public communication, is state champion in Communication Analysis and made it to OFA finals in three other events.

Freshman Brad Keylor, biology, shares state champion honors with his Duo Interpretation partner, Kelsey Jones.

Freshman Nicholas Golina, labor economics, is top individual speaker in Parliamentary Debate.

Debate partners sophomore Natalie Orr, public relations, and freshman Nathan Hill, criminal justice technology, share the state championship in Parliamentary Debate. Additionally, Hill earned a berth in two other final rounds and was named third place in Trithon.

Sophomore Maddie Cuckow, middle level education, placed in the final round of five of her six events. 

Freshman Madison Jones, integrated language arts, placed in the final round of Duo Interpretation, earning fifth place honors with her sister, Kelsey.

Also earning points that contributed to the team's overall success were Ashley Mikolay, Mitch Secaur, Andrew Tufts and Ramon Wise.

Also see

Akron E-Magazine home Class Notes & In Memoriam
The University of Akron Alumni Association

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