Speech and Debate team place second in Collegiate Forensics Association tournament

Minnesota State University’s Speech and Debate team had an eventful weekend taking home second place overall — only 40 points behind the University of Minnesota in the Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association tournament.

The last time MSU placed this close to the U of M was back in 2013 when the current director of Speech and Debate Katie Brunner was a grad student at MSU.

“It’s a battle every year between the three bigger schools so to take second place is even a bigger deal than I think the people on the team realize,” said Katie Brunner, director of Speech and Debate.

Sweeping both interstate oratory spots and the alternate, MSU students placed in the top three for oratory where first- and second-place individuals will qualify for the national competition in April. Eight students qualified for the NFA national tournament in 22 events.

Freshman Mary Burshem placed first in the oratory category and qualified for the national tournament in Texas later this semester. Her piece about advocating to outlaw corporal punishment is a topic she thinks is worth discussing.

“Talking about it in different states and bringing awareness to it is important. This is something that I am passionate about and can talk about,” Burshem said.

James Ziegweid, placed in five events over the weekend, with his most notable one being impromptu speaking. Participants in that category are given a minute and a half to analyze a quotation and then have to create a five-and-a-half-minute speech on the fly.

Having no prior experience in Speech and Debate before college, he learned to think quickly on his feet and enjoys the ability to advocate for change.

“The power your words hold and being able to influence your community with your piece is inspiring,” Ziegweid said.

Others who’ve spent many years in Speech and Debate can relate to the benefits of joining a club that draws you out of your comfort zone.

Alex Menne, state champion in prose interpretation, said she has learned a lot about herself during her time on the team.

“The biggest thing is self-confidence. It takes a lot of courage to stand in front of people and talk about vulnerable things and know in the end it’ll all be okay,” Menne said.

Having something for everyone and anyone, Brunner encourages anyone to give Speech and Debate a shot.

“There’s a rumor out there that this is something people can’t do. People start at all levels and here it’s a place for everyone,” Brunner said.

Header photo: MSU’s Speech and Debate team placed second overall next to the University of Minnesota in the Collegiate Forensics Association tournament hosted on campus. (Photo courtesy of Katie Brunner)

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