Rice speech and debate team finishes season in the top 5

The George R. Brown Forensics Society, Rice’s speech and debate team, finished its season as one of the top 5 teams in the country in the divisions in which it competes. The team is ranked No. 1 in speech and No. 4 in debate. Members won 62 awards in total this spring.

The Rice team at the James “Al” Johnson Memorial Speech and Debate Tournament, held Oct. 29-30 at Colorado College.

“This is an incredible accomplishment by our undergraduate team, which is competing with teams that often have double or triple its numbers and are, in many cases, fielding academic competitors who are attending college on speech or debate scholarships,” said David Worth, director of forensics and lecturer in the School of Humanities.

Rice was represented at the National Forensics Association National Championship, held April 13-17 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, by Allison McKibban, a Will Rice College senior majoring in political science, and Matt Proffitt, a Baker College senior majoring in policy studies, political science and history. McKibban and Proffitt brought home a national championship in the President’s III Division sweepstakes, and McKibban was a fourth-place national champion in extemporaneous (current events) speaking. The championship featured 1,149 entries from 66 colleges.

Six team members represented Rice in 17 events at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament, held April 1-3 at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. “This prestigious tournament is composed exclusively of students that have reached finals and placed highly at three separate tournaments in an event,” Worth said. “Simply qualifying is a tremendous honor.”

Will Rice College senior Allison McKibban placed second at the Interstate Oratorical Association contest, held April 21-22 at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

At the tournament, McKibban was a quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking, out of 130 entrants, and was selected an All-American. Also competing in various categories were Proffitt; Gennifer Geer, a McMurtry College sophomore; Tia Liu, a Baker College senior majoring in history; Summar McGee, a Hanszen College freshman; and Isaiah Rodriguez, a Wiess College junior majoring in policy studies and political science.

The association presented Worth with the Distinguished Service Award, its highest honor, and recognized him for 25 years of attendance at the tournament.

The Rice team also fared well at the National Parliamentary Debate Association National Championship, held March 23-26 at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Four teams of two represented Rice at the largest national college debate tournament, which featured 143 teams from 42 schools. Overall, out of 170 entries, the team placed fourth in the sweepstakes and ninth in the season sweepstakes.

Michael Portal, a McMurtry College senior majoring in philosophy and policy studies, and Sonia Torres, a Hanszen College junior majoring in mathematical economic analysis, were quarterfinalists in debate. Proffitt and Jason Barton, a Duncan College junior majoring in philosophy and psychology, were octafinalists in debate. Vera Ranneft, a Duncan College senior majoring in policy studies and political science, and Franz Brotzen-Smith, a Brown College freshman, were double-octafinalists in debate. Ranneft was 18th and Barton was 19th overall as a debate speaker among 286 entrants.

Rice Director of Forensics David Worth, right, received the American Forensics Association’s Distinguished Service Award at the association’s National Individual Events Tournament.

Worth served as the tournament’s director for the second year and will become vice president of the association in 2017-18.

Finally, McKibban represented Rice and the state of Texas and placed second at the Interstate Oratorical Association contest, held April 21-22 at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The event is the oldest oratorical contest in the United States and has featured an annual competition in persuasive speaking for two winning contestants from each state since 1872.

The team is coached by Worth and Shannon LaBove, associate director of forensics and lecturer in the School of Humanities.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.