Forensics 2018 MO Debate Champions (Again)!

Forensics 2018 MO Debate Champions (Again)!

February 23, 2018
Truman students with trophies

(Top Row from Left to Right: Maguire Radosevic, Riley Dawkins, Peyton Gilbert, Eric Martin, Kelsey Barnes, Caleb Daniels, Audrey Baker, Travis Stahlman) (Middle Row from Left to Right: Cami Smith, Elexis Hubbard, Rebecca Walker) (Bottom Row from Left to Right: Johnathan Christy, Tyler Behymer, Connor Stewart, Austin Sopko)

For the second year in a row, the Truman State University Forensic Union has earned Missouri’s Harold Lawson Debate Championship. The team competed February 16th and 17th at the 2018 Missouri Association of Forensic Activities (MAFA) Championship Tournament, hosted this year on Truman’s campus. In addition to winning the open debate division of the tournament, the team also placed 3rd in the Bob Derryberry Overall Sweepstakes, indicating the strength of both the speech and debate events of the team, and a number of other individual titles and state championships.

In individual events, sophomore Austin Sopko had a phenomenal tournament, taking four of his six events to finals. He would go on to place 6th in poetry interpretation, 5th in afterdinner speaking, 4th in oratory, and 3rd in dramatic interpretation. Additionally, Sopko’s ranking in afterdinner speaking qualified the event to the national tournament, giving him six national qualifications, the highest number of speech qualifications in Truman Forensics’ recent history.  Sophomore Rebecca Walker also advanced to the oratory final, where she placed 7th. First year Travis Stahlman took his informative speaking to the final round, where he placed 5th and earned his first national qualification. First year Maguire Radosevic was next out of finals in extemporaneous speaking, earning him a top novice award. Finally, first year Audrey Baker was awarded top novice in dramtic interpretation and placed 6th in program of oral interpretation, which makes for her fourth national qualification. Baker also placed 2nd and earned top novice oratory.

Baker’s 2nd place in oratory is especially significant because it qualifies her to go to the Interstate Oratorical Association tournament in April. This is the oldest oratorical association in the nation, dating back to 1874, and the speeches of attendees will be published in the annual collection of “Winning Orations.” Only the top two students in oratory for each state are eligible for the tournament and Baker faced stiff competition to earn her place, joining an elite group of speakers from around the nation.

Truman Forensics competed in two categories of debate, including parliamentary debate and Lincoln-Douglas debate. In the novice division of parliamentary debate, first year Riley Dawkins was named 6th best speaker in the division. First year Cami Smith placed third and fellow first year Eric Martin placed first, making him the state champion speaker in novice parliamentary debate. Additionally, Smith and partner Peyton Gilbert were named the state champions in novice parliamentary debate. This is the 6th consecutive state championship for Truman State University in this event.

In the open division of parliamentary debate, three pairs of debaters made it to elimination rounds. Senior Kelsey Barnes and junior Tyler Behymer were named quarterfinalists, joined by sophomore Caleb Daniels and first year Maguire Radosevic. Senior Connor Stewart and junior Johnathan Christy advanced to the finals, where they won the tournament and the state championship in the open division of parliamentary debate. This is the 2nd and 3rd state championship in this event for Stewart and Christy, respectively, each having won in the past with different partners. Additionally, Radosevic was named 6th best speaker in the state, Stewart was named 5th, and Barnes was named 3rd. Christy was named the state champion speaker in open parliamentary debate.

In Lincoln-Douglas debate, Eric Martin placed 2nd in the novice division. Martin was also named 4th best speaker in the state in novice LD debate. In open LD debate, Truman debaters took up five of the six top speaker awards. Cami Smith was named 6th speaker, Maguire Radosevic 5th speaker, Johnathan Christy 4th, Tyler Behymer 3rd, and Caleb Daniels took home the state championship speaker award in open Lincoln-Douglas debate. Five out of nine LD debaters advanced to elimination rounds: Cami Smith, Maguire Radosevic, Johnathan Christy, Tyler Behymer, and Connor Stewart. Based on preliminary round seeding, Radosevic and Christy advanced to semi-finalists over Smith and Stewart, respectively. Christy and Radosevic both ended the tournament as semifinalists. Behymer, however, advanced to the finals where he defeated Missouri State’s Parker Hopkins in a hard fought final round, making him the tournament and Missouri State Champion in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

With all of this success, the team has momentum for two final debate tournaments, the first at  Illinois State University/Western Kentucky University Nationals Warm-up tournament at Illinois State’s campus in Bloomington-Normal, IL on February 24th and 25th. Then a group of four debaters and assistant director of forensics Craig Hennigan will fly to Sacramento State University for the Hornet Cup on March 4th and 5th.

Participation in the forensics program is open to any Truman student in good standing, regardless of prior speech and debate experience.  For more information on how to get involved, visit or contact Director of Forensics, Christopher Outzen at, or Craig Hennigan, Assistant Director of Forensics at