Six Sterling College Forensics Team Members Already Qualified for National Tournament

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To say the Sterling College Debate and Forensics Team is "having a good season" is an understatement in Coach Ken Troyer's view. "Seeing that we have no seniors on the team this year, I am absolutely thrilled with our season," he said recently. "To have six qualified for the AFA nationals; a debate team ranked in the top two in the nation for most of the year; and four state championships-it's a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the SC students."

Two of the six who are qualified for the AFA National Tournament won their qualification at the sixth annual Border Wars Regional Speech Tournament held in Salina, Kan., in early February. Alex Lawhon-Bush of Newton qualified by capturing first place in Extemporaneous Speaking. She earned several other top-ten finishes at the tournament and was recognized as the top novice in the event. Junior Sarah Cibolski of Concordia, Kan., qualified with a fourth place finish in the Program of Oral Interpretation.

"I decided to focus on the Program of Oral Interpretation last year," said Cibolski. "I think it's interesting to take pieces from different genres in order to share views on a topic with an audience." Cibolski's program topic is abortion. "I picked abortion because it's a hot topic, but I wanted to present it in a way that is not offensive to people on either side of the debate." For her program Cibolski uses two poems, "What We Deserve" by Sonya Rene and "Choice" written by Sterling College Coach Ken Troyer, and she also uses transcription from the documentary "The Silent Scream." For competition at the National Tournament, she will be adding script from the original commercial that football star Tim Tebow did for the Super Bowl.

Four other SC team members are qualified for the AFA National Tournament, which will be held in April at the University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire: Emily Graham of Hutchinson in Persuasive Speaking; Vance Stegman of Lyons in After-Dinner Speaking; Jessica Brayton of Lyons in Extemporaneous Speaking; and Melzora Towne of Sterling in Program of Oral Interpretation.

SC students have finished in the top six more than 100 times in forensics events this season, and the team is also doing well in debate competition, placing in the top three at nine out of the ten tournaments it has competed in this year. At five of those tournaments, an SC debate team (made up of two members) has been named the top individual debate team. At the recent Border Wars Regional Speech Tournament, at which more than twenty schools were represented, the team of Nolan Chaney of Hutchinson and Jessica Brayton of Lyons advanced to the semifinals, and the team of Alex Lawhon-Bush and Ryan Corwin of Sterling advanced to the final round and finished in second place.

Chaney was named as the second-place winner in the overall individual debate sweepstakes. Chaney competed in Parliamentary, Lincoln-Douglas and Individual Debate over the course of the three-day tournament, participating in more twenty rounds and advancing to elimination rounds in two of the three debate genres. Chaney was pleased with his results, but he said, "I am not completely satisfied. We still have a lot of work to do."

It is this attitude that makes Coach Troyer so hopeful for the future. He said, "With the hard work and dedication of our current team members and the number of transfers and commitments we have from incoming freshmen, we will have a future team that should be close to unstoppable."