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Bethel forensics team qualifies most events for nationals in 20 years

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NORMAN, OKLA. -- The Bethel College forensics squad continued on its post-season roll with nearly a dozen awards at the district tournament, which resulted in tripling the number of qualifiers for the national tournament in April. The Threshers brought home 11 awards from the District III American Forensic Association-National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) National Qualifier Tournament March 4-5 at the University of Oklahoma. These awards mean that Bethel will send four more students in eight more events to the national tournament at the University of Florida in Gainesville, April 1-3, bringing the Bethel squad’s total to six students in 11 events.

"This represents Bethel’s largest slate of events for nationals since I began coaching forensics in 1986," said John McCabe-Juhnke, professor of communication arts.

In Norman, 10 Bethel team members competed against teams from 14 other colleges and universities at the tournament hosted by OU.

Justin Shook, junior from Lyons, placed first in communication analysis and second in extemporaneous speaking, which qualified him to compete in the national tournament in both events. He also placed sixth in impromptu speaking, which qualified him as second alternate in that event.

Robert Weaver, junior from Wichita, also qualified to attend nationals in extemporaneous speaking and communication analysis, placing third and fourth, respectively. Kristin Watson-Drennen, junior from Lyons, qualified for nationals in persuasive speaking after placing third, while Peter Miller, sophomore from Partridge, also qualified by placing fourth in extemporaneous speaking.

These four students join Shannon Carey, sophomore from Moundridge, and Lindsey Miller, senior from Haven, as nationals qualifiers.

Carey had qualified in after dinner speaking at the Kansas state tournament in Salina. In Norman, she placed first in impromptu speaking and will now go to nationals in that event as well.

Miller placed fifth in after dinner speaking in Norman and will go to nationals in that event, along with informative speaking and extemporaneous speaking, for which she qualified at the state tournament. She placed seventh in poetry interpretation at OU and will be second alternate to nationals in that event.

Allen Harpool, freshman from Moundridge, was named second alternate to nationals in after dinner speaking, while Cory Buchta, sophomore from Newton, placed seventh in persuasive speaking.

Bethany McElhiney, junior from Wichita, and Becky Schulz, freshman from Newton, also attended the National Qualifier Tournament.

The Thresher Squad now travels to Gatlinburg, Tenn., for the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament March 10-13.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at

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