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Talking Mules take first in season opener

The Talking Mules after the Bob R. Derryberry Memorial Tournament hosted by Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. On the front row from left to right are Benjamin Barnett, Abbie Upshaw and Trenton Hawes. On the second row from left to right are Sam DuVall, Adina McCall, Madison Marquardt, Courtney Callahan and Manny Reyes. On the thrid row from left to right are Joshua Boster, Samantha Callaway, graduate assistant and coach Tyler Slinkard, Jack Rogers, director of forensics, and Alex Amos, graduate assistant and coach.

The Talking Mules speech and debate team excelled in regional competition at the Bob R. Derryberry Memorial Tournament hosted on the campus of Southwest Baptist University, in Bolivar, Missouri, Friday and Saturday.

The team earned 21 trophies, including first place in overall tournament sweepstakes, second place in individual events sweepstakes and was named the top Pi Kappa Delta University.

“The Southwest Baptist University tournament was really fun,” Sam DuVall said. “The team really came together despite everyone feeling a little bit nervous. Everyone was really supportive of each other and the environment wasn’t one of hostility against each other like some may think because we are competing against each other as well. But we’re all supportive. Everybody was really happy when somebody did well.”

Nikki Freeman, assistant director of forensics, said she was ecstatic with the results.

“We are such a young team, and yet our new students stepped up and pushed us over the top in the sweepstakes race,” she said.

In debate, team captain Samantha Callaway advanced all the way to the semifinals and finished third in the open Lincoln-Douglas division. Trenton Hawes was a quarterfinalist.

DuVall advanced to the quarterfinals in novice Lincoln-Douglas. Abbie Upshaw and Benjamin Barnett placed second as a team in public forum.

Several Talking Mules earned individual event trophies: in poetry, Samantha Callaway placed third, and Joshua Boster placed fifth. In prose, Madison Marquardt placed fourth and Adina McCall placed fifth and was the top novice. In dramatic interpretation, McCall placed third and was the top novice. In persuasive speaking, Abbie Upshaw placed third and Callaway placed fourth. In interviewing, Upshaw placed second and Callaway placed fifth. In informative speaking, DuVall placed fourth and Marquardt placed fifth.

Callaway was named as the tournament’s Bright Young Scholar, an award for combined finishes in both debate and individual events.

“We are very pleased with the results,” said Jack Rogers, director of forensics. “We earned several qualifications for the National Forensic Tournament in April.”

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