WCU Speech & Debate team excels at Southern Forensics Tournament

Published 4:58 pm Monday, February 14, 2022

William Carey University’s speech and debate team competed Jan. 28-30 in the 2022 Southern Forensics Tournament – where Carey students clinched 11 state championship titles.

“Honestly, I am not surprised. These students have worked hard to see this success. A few years ago, there were questions about the future of the forensics program here at William Carey University. But I think it’s obvious that our team and influence is not going anywhere. They will seek to continue their success in the upcoming national tournaments,” said Dr. Brandon Knight, head coach and director of WCU’s speech and debate program.

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More than 25 colleges and universities from Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas competed in the annual event, hosted virtually this year by Mississippi State University.

William Carey’s wins in Individual Events showcased the team’s diversity:

  • Lauren Hand of Pascagoula clinched the Mississippi State Champion title in Communication Analysis with a piece about the sitcom “Jane the Virgin” and how viewers gain Equipment for Living through the plot.
  • Dayhath Marte-Herrera of Pascagoula won two Mississippi State Champion titles. The first, in Program Oral Interpretation, was for a combination of pieces portraying the Afro-Latino community’s unique identity. The second was for an Informative Speaking piece about Third Culture Kids.
  • Tanner McGee of Oak Grove is the State Champion in Impromptu Speaking.
  • Finally, Omar Villarreal of Pascagoula became the State Champion in Extemporaneous Speaking. Villarreal also received the highest total points in Individual Events among Mississippi participants and won the State Champion Quadrathlon award, presented to students competing in four different events.

William Carey also finished well in Team and Individual Debate:

  • William Carey was represented in Team Debate by Tanner McGee and Omar Villarreal. After being eliminated in out-rounds, McGee and Villarreal received the Team State Championship title.
  • Nate Croft of Norman, Okla., was a finalist in the pre-quarterfinal round of Individual Novice debate. He also clinched the International Public Debate Association State Champ title by having the most speaker points among novice competitors.

In team awards, William Carey earned the Individual Event Team Sweepstakes Award and placed third overall in both debate and individual events.

Students also won individual sweepstakes awards for participating in both divisions of the tournament, taking three positions in the overall five placements – Villarreal finishing 3rd, Tanner McGee in 4th, and Lauren Hand in 5th. Villarreal, however, had the most points among all Mississippi competitors and won the Overall Individual Sweepstakes State Title.