UA Speech & Debate Team Secures Fourth Consecutive State Championship

Winning 10 out of the 15 individual events, the UA students led their team to victory with an overall score of 337.33 points.


(Image via The University of Akron)

Team members in the front row, from left, are Karris McCollum, Anna Kruse and Ryan Longoria. In the middle row, from left, are Graham Hess, Emily Glovas, Nathan Hill and Nick Golina. In the back row, from left, are Mark Rittenour, Adi Rajiv and Parker Codding. Not pictured is Taylor Mills.

By Megan Parker and José Suárez

Editor’s Note: The Buchtelite would like to apologize to The University of Akron’s Speech and Debate team for the original story “Speech, Debate Renaissance Sweeps Across UA, Rivals.” The story was unbalanced and did not appropriately capture the hard work that UA’s Speech and Debate students completed prior to the event and the spirit that they have.

The University of Akron Speech and Debate Team won the 2019 Ohio Forensics Association State Championship tournament, making this the fourth consecutive win for UA.

Speech and Debate programs from all around the state were featured in the intercollegiate competition held in Kolbe Hall on Feb. 15-16. Nonetheless, the students representing Akron walked away with a hard-earned victory.

The current UA Speech and Debate team is comprised of just 10 students and coached by Mark Rittenour, a professor of instruction in the School of Communication.

According to a University press release, the UA students won 10 out of the total 15 individual championships held during the tournament. Overall, Akron won the tournament with 337.33 points, beating out Bowling Green and Ohio.

Rittenour said in the press release that one of the reasons the students competed well in the tournament is due to their hard work and how prepared they were.

“They were focused, hard-working and purposeful in the months and days leading up to this victory. The students masterfully showed our team’s quality-over-quantity approach, and that was reflected in their scores,” Rittenour said.

Senior Nathan Hill, the Akron team captain, won his third consecutive state championship of the trithon, a special category for students entered in events that showcase all three categories of public speaking, the press release said.

As for the rest of the UA Speech and Debate team, the individual results from the tournament are as follows:

  • Senior Nicholas “Nick” Golina – Canton, Ohio:
    • State champion in impromptu speaking.
    • Second place in extemporaneous speaking.
    • Fifth place speaker in the International Public Debate Association.
  • Senior Nathan Hill – Las Vegas, Nev.:
    • State champion in trithon, duo interpretation, informative speaking, persuasive speaking and program oral interpretation.
    • Second place in after-dinner speaking, impromptu speaking and rhetorical criticism.
    • Third place in broadcast journalism and prose interpretation.
  • Junior Karris McCollum – Jackson Township, Ohio:
    • Third place in rhetorical criticism.
  • Junior Taylor Mills – Wooster, Ohio:
    • State champion in duo interpretation, poetry interpretation and prose interpretation.
    • Second place in dramatic interpretation.
    • Third place in after-dinner speaking.
  • Junior Adithya “Adi” Rajiv – Bangalore, India:
    • State champion in after-dinner speaking, second place in persuasive speaking.
    • Third place in trithon. Fourth place in informative speaking, program oral interpretation, prose interpretation and rhetorical criticism.
    • Fifth place in broadcast.
  • Sophomore Graham Hess – Canton, Ohio:
    • State champion in rhetorical criticism.
  • Sophomore Ryan Longoria – Norton, Ohio:
    • Third place in dramatic interpretation. Fifth place intrithon, extemporaneous speaking, informative speaking and persuasive speaking.
  • Freshman Parker Codding – Medina, Ohio:
    • Preliminary round contributor.
  • Freshman Emily Glovas – Perry, Ohio:
    • Fourth place in dramatic interpretation.
  • Freshman Anna Kruse – Lancaster, Ohio:
    • Preliminary round contributor.

Preparation for the seven-month-long intercollegiate speech and debate season begins between the end of the summer and the beginning of the fall semester for UA students, the press release said.

Not only were the UA students ready for their opponents in the tournament, but one student from Bowling Green said they were excited to share their arguments and prose with the audience.

“I try my best to do the literature justice whenever I perform and evoke the same emotions it gave me in others. When I underperform, I feel like I’ve not only let myself and my team down, but the literature as well,” Bowling Green student Sarah Meyer said.

Now that the state tournament is completed and UA secured its victory, the team will now focus greatly toward national tournaments, such as the Interstate Oratorical Association national oratory contest at West Chester University.

“Nationals is the culmination of our season, and the students’ successes at the state level are indicative of great potential at the national level,” Rittenour said in the press release.

Along with the contest in West Chester, Pa., the team will represent UA in three other national competitions in March and April.

These next three events include the National Speech Championship, the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament and the National Forensic Association National Speech and Debate Championship Tournament.