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'Unbelievably special': UNL Speech and Debate Team wins national championship

First national team title in 151-year history
UNL Champion Debate Team.jpeg
Posted at 2:20 PM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 15:20:08-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — It was a historic weekend for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Speech and Debate Team, and they brought home significant hardware as souvenirs.

The debate team won the top honor in the National Forensic Association's National Tournament while at host school Illinois State University. The speech team finished in eighth place overall earlier this month in front of a crowd of 700 and against 48 other colleges and universities during the American Forensic Association's National Speech Tournament in Lincoln. The debate team also had the highest number of team members out of all competitors, with 10 members who qualified to compete in the national tournament.

“Year after year, these students dedicate all of themselves to being better: to bettering themselves, their teammates, bettering their communities,” said Dr. Allison Bonander, associate director of speech, in a UNL press release. “Having the national tournament come together on our campus, after being apart for two years, was unbelievably special and was a highlight of my career.”

This was the fifth year in a row that the Huskers debate team finished in the top five in the nation in Lincoln Douglas Debate. The Speech and Debate Team is part of the UNL Department of Communication Studies and won seven straight Big Ten titles from 2012 to 2018. Its most recent national champion was in 2018 when Nebraska native Colten White won the UNL debate team's first-ever individual national title.

“We are incredibly proud of the hard work of our students and coaches,” said Dr. Aaron Duncan, director of speech and debate, in a UNL press release. “Many of our tournaments were moved online the past two years because of the pandemic, but we were able to have both national tournaments in person. Our students showed they were prepared and ready to compete in person.”

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