Speech and debate team nationally ranked

The Truman State University Speech and Debate team placed third overall at nationals in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Nationals were hosted by the Santa Ana California School District and took place from April 18-22. Lincoln-Douglas debate is a one-on-one policy style of debate in which two people debate over one resolution of policy. One person is in support of the resolution while the other takes an opposite stance.

Forensics director Christopher Outzen said 12 students competed in nationals, but three other students also qualified. Eight of them competed in debate, and three Truman students made it to the finals in Lincoln-Douglas debate. Tyler Behymer, Johnathan Christy and  Peyton Gilbert rank among the top 16 debaters in the nation. Four Truman students also competed in 14 individual speech events.

“This is one of the biggest nationals in the program’s history, but also, it was for sure the largest Lincoln-Douglas field that our national organization has ever seen,” Outzen said. “So, for our students to do that well against that many other debaters is really a testament to the strength of our program and the strength of our current debaters.”

Assistant Forensics director Craig Hennigan said nationals was tremendously successful. He said the third place ranking is higher than the program has seen in recent years.

“The top two teams are both much better funded Div. I schools, and we’re just a small liberal arts college,” Hennigan said. “So, it means something that we’re competing with Missouri State [University], who has a much larger budget, and Western Kentucky [University], who has a very large budget and coaching staff. Both of them have multiple coaches and much more access to resources that we don’t.”

In addition, he said the regular debate season went really well, with Truman debaters winning multiple tournaments.

Christy was involved in debate all four years of his college career and competed at nationals every year. This year, Christy said he competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Christy said he hopes the Truman debate team keeps its overall culture of success moving forward. He also said he hopes the team maintains its team-oriented mindset because although they compete individually, there are still awards they earn as a team and as a school.

Behymer was also involved in debate for his four years at Truman and competed at nationals every year. This year at nationals is his second time being an octofinalist, he said, and he also finished as a national quarterfinalist once.

He said the road to nationals is full of hard work in the form of research and practice but that competing at nationals is a fun experience.