UA’s Speech and Debate Team are State Champs for Third Consecutive Year

The University of Akron Speech and Debate Team competed at the Ohio Forensic Association State Championship this past weekend at Bowling Green State University and won their third consecutive state championship.


Brianna Cramer

The Speech and Debate Team with their awards.

By Brianna Cramer, Social Media Editor

The Speech and Debate team was led by Director and Coach, Mark Rittenour, and ended the tournament with an impressive score of 412, 300+ points above the teams who won second and third place. Cedarville University earned second place with 89 points, and Bowling Green State University won third with 86 points.

“The massive point-spread at states this year was really exciting for all of us. Winning the OFA State Championship Tournament for us is equivalent to winning a MAC Title in athletics. Two years ago, in 2016, we won the OFA State Championship Tournament by one point. In 2017, we won by almost tripling the score of our closest opponent. This year, we more than quadrupled our closest opponent. That fact simply proves that everyone in our program strives for excellence. We always have a goal to represent The University of Akron with integrity,” Mark Rittenour said.

Preparation for the OFA State Championship Tournament begins in the early fall and students log countless hours practicing and preparing their material to perfection. Students receive feedback and the help of Rittenour along with a group of Rittenour’s former students who help coach, as well.

The Speech and Debate team also took home the cumulative Susan Millsap Founders’ Award and the OFA Debate Sweepstakes Championship, along with the Trithon Award for the fifth consecutive year, and team members altogether won nine individual state championships. Director and Coach of the team, Mark Rittenour also went home with the 2018 Ohio Forensic Association Educator of the Year Award, which hasn’t been awarded since 2012.

“After coaching for 16 years in the Ohio Forensic Association, hosting the state championship tournament several times, and holding leadership positions in the league, winning the 2018 OFA Educator of the Year was especially gratifying,” Director and Coach, Mark Rittenour said.

The individual student award winners were:

Nathan Hill, won the Trithon Award (top overall speaker) for the second year in a row. He was the state champion in after-dinner speaking, impromptu speaking, and persuasive speaking, the state runner-up in duo interpretation and rhetorical criticism, third place in informative speaking, fourth place in program oral interpretation, and fifth place in duo interpretation.

Gavin DeMall, placed 3rd in persuasive speaking.

Nicholas Golina, placed second in International Public Debate (IPDA) speaker points, second in impromptu speaking and extemporaneous speaking, and a semi-finalist in IPDA.

Graham Hess, state champion in rhetorical criticism and fourth place in informative speaking.

Kat Humphries, state champion in International Public Debate, IPDA speaker points, and fourth place in persuasive speaking and rhetorical criticism.

Ryan Longoria, third place in extemporaneous speaking, sixth place in IPDA speaker points, dramatic interpretation, and duo interpretation.

Lydia Mainzer, placed third in broadcast journalism and fourth in impromptu speaking.

Taylor Mills, state champion in prose interpretation, second place in poetry interpretation, third in program oral interpretation, third in dramatic interpretation and program oral interpretation, fourth in duo interpretation, and fifth in duo interpretation.

Angela Perretta, state champion in broadcast journalism, state runner-up in persuasive speaking, third place in prose interpretation, and fourth place in dramatic interpretation and duo interpretation.

Ethan Plaster, state champion in dramatic interpretation, state runner-up in duo interpretation, fourth place in prose interpretation and poetry interpretation, and state finalist in program oral interpretation.

Adithya Rajiv, state runner-up in after-dinner speaking and informative speaking, third place in rhetorical criticism, and sixth place in duo interpretation.

“It’s important to know that students on the team do more than one event each, some many events, and preparing involves a combination of developing critical thinking skills, writing and memorizing material for public address speeches. Each prepared speech is eight to ten minutes in length and goes through an extensive research, writing, and editing process before it’s competition-ready and can be memorized,” Mark Rittenour said.

The University of Akron’s Speech and Debate Team will compete next at the National Speech Championship in Lincoln, Nebraska, the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the National Forensic Association National Tournament in Oshkosh, Wisconsin this spring.

For more information about the Speech and Debate team, contact Director and Coach, Mark Rittenour at [email protected].