NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Bethel College senior Jeremy Schrag, Moundridge, earned First Place in Persuasive Speaking at the 27th annual American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) held April 2-5 at California State University, Long Beach. In order to win the title of national champion, Schrag placed higher than 155 competitors in the Persuasive Speaking category. Schrag also earned the honor of being the first competitor in Bethel College forensics history to win a national championship title at the AFA-NIET. His winning speech argued against the FDA’s approval of Human Growth Hormone for nonmedical use.
"Jeremy's national championship award is a tribute to his commitment and determination as a competitor," said John McCabe-Juhnke, forensics coach. "In his three years of competition for Bethel, he's shown that a positive attitude and a willingness to continually adapt to criticism can result in tremendous rewards."
According to McCabe-Juhnke, the AFA-NIET is one of the most prestigious national tournaments because of the rigorous qualification system. To qualify, students must either place in the top 10 percent of their events at a district tournament (Bethel College’s district includes schools from Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana) or achieve high rankings in finals at three regular season tournaments. An additional challenge is that there are no divisions at the AFA-NIET, so Bethel College competes with Division I public universities as well as other private institutions. This year, 213 schools were represented by over 800 competitors, making it the largest national forensics tournament in history.
"The Bethel squad and coaches are all thrilled with Jeremy’s success," said McCabe-Juhnke. "Especially gratifying was the way that people we compete with regularly surrounded us after the awards. Coaches and competitors from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas were as excited as we were."
In addition to Schrag, other Bethel College community members participating in the AFA-NIET were Eric Stucky, junior from Galva, who qualified for nationals in Impromptu Speaking, and Justin Shook, freshman from Lyons, who competed in After Dinner Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking. Schrag also participated in Impromptu Speaking and Extemporaneous Speaking.
Bethel College forensics coaches are McCabe-Juhnke and Brian Stucky.