Speech and Debate Team earns its best weekend yet

By Laurie Merrill
GCU  News Bureau

The Speech and Debate Team at Grand Canyon University continued its high-flying trajectory last weekend with stunning successes at two California tournaments.

The team’s performance at San Diego State and Point Loma Nazarene universities was “arguably the most successful weekend in our team’s history,” said team director Barry Regan, a College of Humanities and Social Sciences instructor.

Thomas Rotering (right) nailed his characterizations of Donald Trump in GCU's mock presidential debate last fall.

In the San Diego State University contest, GCU took first place out of 17 teams, including several that perennially rank in the Top 10 nationally.

Leading the way were senior Zachary Kuykendall (first place), junior Kara Sutton (second), freshman Matthew Calderwood (fourth) and freshman JT Winkler (fifth).

At the Point Loma tournament, the parliamentary debate partnership of senior Thomas Rotering and sophomore Jasmin Richardson upset the No. 1-ranked partnership in the country, the University of the Pacific's Dallas Phillips and Paul Villa, in the "Sweet 16" round, Regan said.

The partnership of Kuykendall and junior Taylor Alandzes finished in the “Elite 8.”

On the speech side, sophomore Keliann Nash set a team record with four top-five finishes, in Prose Interpretation, Informative Speaking, Impromptu Speaking and Poetry Interpretation.

The Speech and Debate Team was honored at a recent Lopes basketball game.

In addition, freshman Grace Laidlaw was first in Extemporaneous Speaking and sophomore Thomas Gleason took first in Persuasive Speaking.

Regan said that he and assistant coaches Michael Dvorak, Josh Vannoy, Emma Hong and Jason Hong have been pushing the team to step up and perform at a higher level going into nationals season next month.

“I am extremely proud to say that our competitors exceeded even our highest expectations with this all-around team win,” Regan said.

The last regular-season tournament is Feb. 26-28 at Hastings (Neb.) College.  For the first time, GCU will host the national Christian College Forensics Invitational tournament, scheduled for March 17-19.

For a story about Regan receiving a prestigious award for his team leadership, click here

Recent successes: 

 Kuykendall and  Alandzes had a stellar performance at the California State University Long Beach tournament and moved to No. 29 out of 448 ranked partnerships, giving GCU two Top 30 debate pairs for the first time in team history. 

At the Mile High Swing invitational at The University of Utah, Rotering and  Sharp reached the “Sweet Sixteen,” which placed them 23rd in the nation out of 392 teams. 

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or [email protected].

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