Speech and Debate Team triumphs for third straight year


Our Speech and Debate Team took top honors at the Ohio Forensic Association State Championship Tournament, held Feb. 16-17 at Bowling Green State University. With a score of 412, the team won its third consecutive state championship in the overall sweepstakes. Second place, Cedarville University, finished with 89 points, and third place, BGSU, with 86, rounded out the top teams.

“All 11 of my students contributed significantly to our third consecutive OFA State Championship,” says Mark Rittenour, team coach. “I'm so proud to have the opportunity to work with University of Akron students who are committed to excellence and represent our university with such high academic and personal integrity. These are top students, ones who are ambassadors for UA, but also exemplary citizens in the national forensics community. They breathe new life into the campaign, #whynotAkron.”


Seated above in the front row, from left, are Nicholas Golina, Lydia Mainzer, Angela Perretta and Nathan Hill. In the middle row, seated, from left, Ethan Plaster, Taylor Mills and Adithya Rajiv. In the back row, standing, are Coach Mark Rittenour, Gavin DeMali, Graham Hess, Ryan Longoria and Kat Humphries.


The team also won the cumulative Susan Millsap Founders' Award, the OFA Debate Sweepstakes Championship, the Trithon Award (top overall speaker), for the fifth consecutive year, and nine individual event state championships. Seniors Angela Perretta and Lydia Mainzer were recognized for their innumerable league contributions.

Coach honored

Rittenour, a professor of instruction in the School of Communication, received the 2018 Ohio Forensic Association Educator of the Year Award. This is the first time since 2012 that the honor had been awarded.

The first and second place finishes of Nathan Hill and Angela Perretta in persuasive speaking place them as the top two persuasive speakers in the state. They have qualified to represent Ohio in the Interstate Oratorical Association national contest, to be held in late April in Monmouth, Ill.

This spring, the whole team will represent UA at the National Speech Championship in Lincoln, Neb., the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the National Forensic Association National Tournament in Oshkosh, Wis.

The individual award winners are as follows:

— Nathan Hill, junior, of Las Vegas, won the Trithon Award (top overall speaker) for the second year in a row. He was the state champion in after dinner speaking, impromptu speaking and persuasive speaking, the state runner-up in duo interpretation (with partner Ethan Plaster) and rhetorical criticism, third place in informative speaking, fourth place in program oral interpretation, and fifth place in duo interpretation (with partner Taylor Mills).
— Gavin DeMall, sophomore, of Akron, placed third in persuasive speaking.
— Nicholas Golina, junior, of Canton, placed second in International Public Debate (IPDA) speaker points, second in impromptu speaking and extemporaneous speaking, and as a semi-finalist in IPDA.
— Graham Hess, freshman, of Canton, was state champion in rhetorical criticism and fourth place in informative speaking.
— Kat Humphries, freshman, of Liberty, was state champion in International Public Debate, IPDA speaker points, and fourth in persuasive speaking and rhetorical criticism.
— Ryan Longoria, freshman, of Norton, was third place in extemporaneous speaking, sixth place in IPDA speaker points, dramatic interpretation and duo interpretation (with partner Adi Rajiv).
— Lydia Mainzer, senior, of Medina, placed third in broadcast journalism and fourth in impromptu speaking.
— Taylor Mills, sophomore, of Wooster, was state champion in prose interpretation, second place in poetry interpretation, third in program oral interpretation, third in dramatic interpretation and program oral interpretation, fourth in duo interpretation (with partner Angela Perretta) and fifth in duo interpretation (with partner Nathan Hill).
— Angela Perretta, senior, of Massillon, who was state champion in broadcast journalism, state runner-up in persuasive speaking, third place in prose interpretation, and fourth place in dramatic interpretation and duo interpretation (with partner Taylor Mills).
— Ethan Plaster, sophomore, of North Canton, state champion in dramatic interpretation, state runner-up in duo interpretation (with partner Nathan Hill), fourth place in prose interpretation and poetry interpretation, and state finalist in program oral interpretation.
— Adithya Rajiv, sophomore, of Bangalore, India, state runner-up in after dinner speaking and informative speaking, third place in rhetorical criticism, and sixth place in duo interpretation (with partner Ryan Longoria).

Team open to all majors

The Speech and Debate Team, housed in the School of Communication in the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences, is a co-curricular program offered to all undergraduate majors. In preparation for intercollegiate competitions, participating students learn critical thinking, writing and speaking skills. Team members travel to regional, state and national tournaments where they are given a forum to showcase their art, passions and ideas for civic engagement. The team provides its students with academic enrichment, national networking opportunities and competitive victories. During the past decade, the Speech and Debate Team has earned more than 45 individual state championships, eight team titles in the Ohio Forensic Association and six top 10 team placements at national tournaments.

For more information, please contact Mark Rittenour at mritten@uakron.edu.