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Bethel has first nationals qualifier in forensics, first sweepstakes win of year

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – It took just two regional swing tournaments for Bethel College junior Jacob Miller to qualify his first forensics event to next spring’s national tournament, and for the squad to get its first sweepstakes win.

Sept. 26-27, Bethel competed at Debates on a Plain, hosted by Hutchinson Community College and Sterling College on the HCC campus. Bethel placed sixth both days competing against 15 other schools on Day 1 and 14 on Day 2, from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Miller, Westmoreland, placed 2nd in Informative Speaking, 3rd in After Dinner Speaking (ADS), 6th in Communication Analysis and “next out” in Impromptu Speaking on Day 1 of Debates on a Plain.

On Day 2, Miller was 1st in ADS, 2nd in Informative Speaking, 4th in Impromptu Speaking and 6th in Communication Analysis. He was the 5th-place individual speaker for the tournament.

Emily Kondziola, freshman from North Newton, earned her first break as a collegiate competitor on Day 1, taking 6th in Extemporaneous Speaking. On Day 2, sophomore Shekhinah Jones, Salina, got his first break as a Thresher with a 6th-place finish in Persuasive Speaking.

Also competing at the Debates on a Plain swing, and earning points toward the team placement, were juniors Clinton Unruh, Newton, and Autumn Masters, Newton, sophomores Kaitlyn Scribner, Delia, and Kendra Gonzales, Minneapolis, and freshman Candy Dao, Salina.

Oct. 3-4, the Bethel forensics squad competed at two tournaments hosted by Kansas State University and West Texas A&M on the K-State campus in Manhattan. Bethel was one of nine schools, from Kansas, Nebraska and Texas, competing on each day of the tournament.

Miller was the Buff Cats Tournament (Day 1, West Texas A&M hosting) champion in ADS, qualifying to the American Forensic Association-National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) in that event.

Miller’s nationals qualification “continues Bethel’s tradition for the 39th year in a row,” said Mallory Marsh, Bethel head forensics coach. “Jacob managed to qualify in the shortest number of tournaments possible, which is an incredibly difficult feat.”

AFA-NIET will be held April 2-4, 2016, at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Miller also placed 4th in Communication Analysis, 6th in Impromptu Speaking and 7th in Informative Speaking.

Jones celebrated his birthday with a 7th-place finish in Persuasive Speaking. Kondziola took home 5th in Extemporaneous Speaking.

Unruh and Dao filled out the squad at the Buff Cats Tournament.

The next day, at the Lynne Ross Tournament (K-State hosting), the Threshers finished third as a team, behind the University of Nebraska-Omaha and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, earning their first sweepstakes trophy of the school year.

“This put them ahead of schools like Doane College, West Texas A&M and Hastings College,” Marsh noted. “All of these teams placed in the top 25 in the nation last year, and Doane was in the top 10.

“While it’s still very early in the season and, like Bethel, these schools were also traveling with just parts of their squads, it’s an impressive placement for our young crew of talented students.”

There are no seniors on the team, and three of the five Threshers at the Buff Cats/Lynne Ross Tournaments are in their first year of college forensics.

Miller was the 3rd-place speaker for the Lynne Ross Tournament, taking 1st in ADS, 2nd in Impromptu, 4th in Communication Analysis and 5th in Informative Speaking.

Unruh had his first break of the year, earning 6th in Impromptu. Jones took 5th in Persuasion. Kondziola was tournament champion in Extemporaneous Speaking. Also contributing points was Dao.

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.