Truman Forensics Finishes Season With Best Ever Showing at Nationals

Apr 26, 2011 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Press Releases

The Truman State University speech and debate team returned from the National Forensics Association Championship Tournament last week with the best finish in the history of the program. Truman finished second in Lincoln-Douglas debate sweepstakes and fifth in individual events sweepstakes in Division II.

The national championship was held at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois April 15-18. The tournament brought together 93 individual events schools and 25 debate schools from across the nation to compete.

The team took two seniors and four freshmen to debate in the championship.  In fact, it was freshman Myra Milam (Elkland, MO) who advanced to the quarterfinal round, placing her in the top eight debaters in the nation. No Truman competitor competing in Lincoln-Douglas debate has ever advanced further than the quarterfinal round.

Senior Sarah Backhaus (Liberty, MO) also advanced into elimination rounds in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, making it to the octofinal round.  This placed her in the top 16 of the 84 competitors that had to qualify to earn their spot to compete at this tournament.  Both Milam and Backhaus were also awarded for their eloquent speaking style with speaker awards, winning third place and seventh place, respectively.

Second place in debate sweepstakes is the highest that Truman has ever placed as a team. Every time a debater wins a preliminary or elimination round, points are awarded to the team.  The team’s previous best finish was fourth place last year.

In individual events, sophomore Jessica Petrie (Millstadt, IL) finished second place in both Impromptu Speaking and Editorial Impromptu Speaking.  At 250 competitors, Impromptu Speaking had the most entries at the championship.  Editorial Impromptu, the new experimental event, had 80 competitors.

In Truman’s history, the only other time someone won second place was in 2001 when a freshman achieved the feat in After Dinner Speaking. No Truman student has done it twice in the same competition.

Junior Andrew Grojean (Blue Springs, MO) advanced to the quarterfinal round of Persuasive Speaking.  This put him in the top 24 speakers in the nation in the event. With over 200 competitors, it was one of the largest events of the championship.

There were six students competing in individual events for Truman—three freshmen, two sophomores, and one junior.  This year, the team was placed in the President’s Division II consisting of teams that had 15-22 event entries.  With 15 event entries, Truman had the smallest number of competitors in the division and barely made the cut off point.  Yet, the team managed to place fifth out of the 20 schools in this division—including schools such as the University of Michigan and nearby Creighton University.

“We’ve always been small in size, but concentrated in talent,” Director of Forensics Kristi Scholten said.  “Mark my words: This is the team to watch in the next few years.”


2 Comments + Add Comment

  • As an active Truman forensics alumna, I applaud the team’s success last year, especially the 2nd place in debate sweeps. While this is extremely exciting and I am happy for the team, this press release is inaccurate. In order for this to be accurate, the press release needs to say that this is the best showing since 2003. The best showing of the Truman team had at NFA was in 2003, when the team placed 2nd in Division I and 5th in Open. It is important to make sure to fact check before posting press releases. This shows that the author does not know the history of the Truman team and ignores the success of past team members. You can find this information on the NFA website.

  • Thank you for the comment and your support of the team, Heather! In regards to the press release, we chose the phrase “best showing” because last year was the best showing for the team as a whole. While in 2003 the individual events side of the program did a phenomenal job placing 2nd in Division I and 5th in Open, those awards do not account for the debate side of the program. Since the debate team placed the best we ever have – 2nd overall last year – and the individual events team also placed relatively high, we thought the term “best ever showing” was appropriate. It was not intended to discount the accomplishments or legacy of past members. Thank you for your feedback!