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No Debating the Speech Team's Success

On November 3 and 4, speech and debate teams from throughout the region arrived at Berea College to compete in the annual John G. Fee Memorial Debate, one of the largest tournaments in the area.

The debate has always been a major competition for the BC Speech and Debate Team, and this year was no exception. Approximately 72 debaters competed in the tourney, representing 20 colleges. The competition covered everything from traditional “point-counterpoint” parliamentary debate to poetry and dramatic interpretation. There were 36 different debate teams present from various colleges throughout the region. Over 100 debates were held during the competition as well as individual events that focused on prose, poetry, dramatic interpretation, persuasive and informative speaking. Berea College had a great deal of success at this competition.

“It was a smashing success,” said Billy Wooten in regards to the attendance and Berea’s performance at the event. “Even though they are a ‘new’ team, with mostly first year students, they have been tremendously successful. We have had some growing pains, as we have 32 members on the team and a limited amount of funding compared to our competition, but we have overcome those hurdles the best we could."

Berea College earned 1st place among the schools in the Debate Sweepstakes. Other successes include:

Emily Potter - 3rd place novice debate speaker
Levi Bennett - 6th place open debate speaker
Yordan Georgiev and Emily Potter - octafinalists in debate
Brendan Smith and Levi Bennett - octafinalists in debate
Jessica Fagan - 6th place poetry
Renee Sloan - 5th place poetry
Stephanie Radford - 4th place poetry
Katie Nolan - top novice dramatic interpretation
Stephanie Radford - 4th place dramatic interpretation
Shauna Sams - 5th place programmed oral interpretation
Liz Nolan and Jessica Fagan - 5th place duo interpretation
Jessica Fagan - 5th place pentathlon


The John G. Fee Memorial debate has not been the only taste of success for Berea College's speech and debate teams. At the Western Kentucky National Debate Fiesta, the team of Beth Coleman and Ruslan Petrakiev made the semifinals in parliamentary debate, besting some of the top-ranked teams in the nation and finishing only one round away from being the champions of the entire tournament.

Both the speech and debate teams also competed at the Owensboro College Invitational tournament, capturing over 22 awards, including 2nd Place Overall Grand Sweepstakes. "We really excelled," Wooten commented.

The speech team competed in individual events where they performed dramatic scenes from plays, prose and poetry. They also competed in "limited preparation events," where the speakers were given two minutes to organize a coherent and logical seven minute speech. The awards won by Berea College students at the Owensboro event are listed below.

Debate Awards:

Quarterfinalists - Merim Matkulova and Salome Kiwara
1st Place Novice Speaker - Merim Matkulova
2nd Place Novice Speaker - Beth Coleman
6th Place Varsity Speaker - Levi Bennett
7th Place Varsity Speaker - Salome Kiwara
10th Place Varsity Speaker - Brendan Smith

Individual Event Awards:

Greg Stearns - 1st Place Prose Champion; Top Novice in Poetry
Matthew Frederick - 2nd Place Dramatic Interp.; 3rd Place Prose
Airzola Cleaves - 1st Place Dramatic Interp. Champion
Stephanie Radford - 3rd Place Dramatic Interp.; 2nd Place Poetry; Top Novice in Prose
Kate Nolan - 4th Place Dramatic Interp.
Tuyet Nguyen - 5th Place Dramatic Interp.
Jessica Fagan - 6th Place Dramatic Interp.; 4th Place Duo; 3rd Place Pentathlon; Top Novice in Impromptu Counseling; Top Novice in Poetry
Renee Sloan - 6th Place Poetry
Liz Nolan - 4th Place Duo; Top Novice in Poetry

So what’s next for the speech and debate team? With their current success their goal is to continue to familiarize themselves with the inner workings of the forensics community, and possibly participate in national competitions representing Berea College.

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