Local Talent Achieves uccess on Sterling College Debate/Forensics Team

Release Date: 
January 6, 2010

December 28, 2009, Sterling, Kansas—Sterling College Debate and Forensics Coach Ken Troyer has a young team this year: one senior, seven juniors, six sophomores, and six first-year students. His team is also a very local team: thirteen of its twenty members can travel home in an hour or less. However, the youth and local recruiting seem to be working to the team’s advantage: Sterling College’s top debate duo is ranked twelfth in the nation, and three team members have already qualified for the American Forensics Association National Tournament in April.
The team was successful at its most recent tournament, returning from the Christmas Classic at Cameron University on December 5-7 with a first place in overall debate team sweeps and a second place finish in overall individual events team sweeps.
“Beating Texas Tech (in debate) is no small accomplishment,” said Coach Troyer. “I was especially proud of how the debate team responded to a large number of changes in partners only a few days prior to the tournament. Rather than using it as an excuse, each team member responded, and we had an amazing showing.”
The team of David Bowers, a junior from Buhler, and Emily Graham, a junior from Hutchinson, made it to the semi-finals. Bowers was ranked as the eighth-place speaker, and Graham was named the third-place speaker. The team of Bowers and Graham is currently ranked twelfth in the nation and is on track to attend the National Parliamentary Tournament, since the top 24 teams in the nation are typically offered first-round bids. The team of Jason Phillips of Fort Scott, Kan., and Courtney Hensley of Lyons is ranked 89th out of 689 teams.
Three members of the team have also qualified for the American Forensics Association National Tournament in April: Vance Stegman of Lyons in After-Dinner Speaking; Jessica Brayton of Lyons in Extemporaneous Speaking; and Graham in Persuasive Speaking. Two others, Sarah Cibolski of Concordia and Melzora Towne of Sterling are, in Coach Troyer’s words, “one good showing away from joining (them).”
The SC team had several good individual showings at the Christmas Classic. In the Program of Oral Interpretation, Cibolski, a junior, earned first place and Towne, a first-year student, came in second. In Lincoln Douglas Debate, Bowers finished second, and Nolan Chaney, a sophomore from South Hutchinson, earned third. Jessica Brayton, a sophomore from Lyons, finished fourth in Extemporaneous Speaking and fifth in Impromptu Speaking; Graham finished fourth in Persuasive Speaking; and Towne was a semi-finalist in Prose Interpretation.
In the Junior Varsity division of parliamentary debate, several SC teams made it to the semifinals or quarterfinals: Ryan Corwin, a sophomore from Sterling; Alex Lawhon-Bush, a first-year student from Newton, Kan.; Fay Carey, a senior from Sterling; and Towne.