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Bethel finishes first at state forensics tournament, adds more nationals events

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Another Bethel College forensics team member has qualified for the national tournament, while two others will now be taking additional events.

Bethel hosted the Kansas State Individual Events Tournament, better known as KASIE, on its campus Feb. 20, and finished first for the day.

“The team did exceptionally well,” said Bethel head forensics coach Mallory Marsh, “with each student competing in at least one final round.”

Other schools at KASIE were Hutchinson Community College, Independence Community College, Kansas Wesleyan University, Kansas State University, Ottawa University and Sterling College.

Kendra Gonzales, sophomore from Minneapolis, was the tournament champion in Program of Oral Interpretation (POI), which gave her what she needed to qualify that event for the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) in April.

She was also 3rd in Informative Speaking and 4th in Prose Interpretation.

Two freshmen, Candy Dao of Salina and Emily Kondziola of North Newton, each brought home state championships as well, in Poetry Interpretation and Impromptu Speaking, respectively, while also qualifying her second event to AFA-NIET.

Dao was also 3rd in Prose Interpretation and Kondziola was 5th in Informative Speaking.

Clinton Unruh, junior from Newton, was 1st in Extemporaneous Speaking and “next out” in Impromptu Speaking.

Autumn Masters, junior from Newton, finished 2nd in both Poetry Interpretation and POI, while Jacob Miller, junior from Westmoreland, took 2nd in Communication Analysis and Heather Chaney, freshman from Erie, was 6th in Informative Speaking.

Chaney, Miller and Shekhinah Jones, sophomore from Salina, comprised half of the six finalists in Persuasive Speaking. The one-two finishers in that event at KASIE go on to represent the state of Kansas at the Interstate Oratory (IO) Tournament.

IO is the oldest competitive speech tournament in the nation. It will be held this year at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Miller represented Bethel – and Kansas – at last year’s IO Tournament.

“The final round of Persuasive Speaking was a head-to-head competition between K-State, which had advanced three speakers, and Bethel, which had advanced all three of our persuasive speakers,” Marsh said.

In the end, Jones finished 2nd behind K-State’s Jesse Porter and will go to the IO Tournament in late April.

Chaney placed 3rd and Miller 5th.

Although Bethel earned the most points, for a 1st-place finish, it’s not accurate “to say we’re ‘state champions,’” said Marsh. “Bethel, K-State and HCC don’t compete in events that we’ve already qualified [for nationals], except in the case of Persuasive Speaking, because that final round’s results determine the IO Tournament qualifiers from our state.”

Going into KASIE, Bethel had qualified four students in eight separate events. The total is now up to five students in 10 different events.

There is one more chance for forensics competitors to qualify to nationals – the District III Forensics Tournament, which Bethel will also host, on March 5. AFA-NIET is April 2-4 at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

“[KASIE] was particularly rewarding,” said Marsh, “because every single team member competed in at least one final round and the entire team competed together for the first time since the season began last fall.”

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015–16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015–16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.