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One month into competition, forensics has three nationals qualifiers

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College’s streak of national tournament qualifications in forensics remains alive and well, with students advancing for the 40th straight year.

That covers the entire history of the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET). Bethel is one of only six colleges or universities in the nation to have that distinction.

The Threshers have now qualified three students in eight events, including a freshman in her first-ever semester of collegiate competition – and have done it in the first month of forensics competition.

Five squad members traveled to Warrensburg Oct. 15-16 for a swing tournament held on the campus of Central Missouri State University. Bethel was among 14 schools competing in the Missouri Mule Tournament Oct. 15 and eight schools in the Dale Carnegie Tournament Oct. 16, both hosted by UCM.

On Day 1, Jacob Miller, senior from Westmoreland, finished 1st in Impromptu Speaking, 2nd in After Dinner Speaking and 3rd in Communication Analysis, which qualified all three events to AFA-NIET.

He also took 2nd in Program Oral Interpretation (POI). On Day 2, a 3rd-place finish in POI qualified that event as well.

On Day 1 as well, Emily Kondziola, sophomore from North Newton, was 2nd in Informative Speaking and 3rd in Extemporaneous Speaking, qualifying both for nationals. She finished 3rd in Impromptu on Day 1 and 2nd on Day 2, to qualify her third event to AFA-NIET.

Competing on Day 1 and adding to Bethel’s points total were Clinton Unruh, senior from Newton, Candy Dao, sophomore from Salina, and Akiyaa Hagen, freshman from Salina.

In the Dale Carnegie Tournament, Miller had a 4th in Informative and Kondziola a 4th in Extemporaneous. Dao was 6th in POI. Hagen had her first break as a collegiate competitor, advancing to final rounds in Poetry Interpretation (3rd place) and Prose Interpretation (5th place).

Unruh competed on Day 2 as well.

Bethel College co-hosted the Sunflower Swing on its own campus Oct. 22-23, along with Kansas State University. Ten schools competed on Day 1 and 11 on Day 2.

Hagen was 2nd in Poetry on Day 1 and 1st on Day 2, making her tournament champion, and qualifying her for AFA-NIET, in the event.

“Qualifying this early in the regular season is an incredibly difficult feat, requiring multiple final-round placements at various tournaments,” said Mallory Marsh, Bethel head forensics coach. “It’s perhaps even more impressive that Akiyaa has managed to qualify this early as a freshman.

“This is the team’s third student and eighth event qualified for the AFA-NIET,” Marsh continued. “For comparison, the 2013-14 team successfully qualified a total of eight events to nationals by the end of the regular season in March.

“This year, with the freshmen from the 2013-14 team, Clinton Unruh and Jacob Miller, now guiding the team as seniors, the Threshers have qualified eight events before the end of the first month of competition. Many students on the team are close to qualifying in [several] other events.”

The 40th annual AFA-NIET takes place April 1-3, 2017, at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.

At the Sunflower Swing Day 1, Miller was 2nd and Unruh 7th in Informative, while Dao took 6th in POI.

Heather Chaney, sophomore from Erie, also competed in both days of the tournament.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2016–17. 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.