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After Saturday tournament, Bethel has four forensics championships

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Hosting this year’s Kansas State Individual Events (KASIE) Tournament in forensics proved to be good karma for the Bethel team.

Eight other colleges and universities sent teams to the Feb. 21 event – Barton Community College, Friends University, Hutchinson Community College, Independence Community College, Kansas State University, Kansas Wesleyan University, Ottawa University and Sterling College.

Bethel had four state championships at the end of the day, more than any other school – and the student who earned one of those will be going to a prestigious national competition this spring.

Jacob Miller, sophomore from Westmoreland, is state champion in Persuasive Speaking and in Communication Analysis. He also took 3rd in Impromptu Speaking.

Cameron Ponce, sophomore from Elkhart, Indiana, is state champion in Program of Oral Interpretation (POI) and in Prose Interpretation.

Ponce’s first-place finish in POI qualifies him for that event at the American Forensic Association Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET).

Ponce is now qualified in two events for AFA-NIET and Miller in three.

“This was an especially wonderful KASIE Tournament for Bethel forensics,” said Mallory Marsh, Bethel forensics head coach. “In addition to the state championships and Cameron qualifying his POI to nationals, Jacob’s placement in Persuasive Speaking means he will represent both the state of Kansas and Bethel College at the Interstate Oratory Contest.

“The top two individuals in Persuasive Speaking from each state are invited to this tournament, the oldest and most prestigious oratory competition in the United States,” she continued. “Based on our records, this is the first time a Bethel College student has qualified for this tournament since 1980.”

That student was Gail (Niles) Stucky, now co-director of libraries at Bethel and assistant forensics coach.

Also on Feb. 21, Clinton Unruh, sophomore from Newton, placed 3rd in Extemporaneous Speaking and 4th in Informative Speaking; Shaelyn Atwood, freshman from Sabetha, was 5th in Communication Analysis and 6th in Prose Interpretation; and Kendra Gonzales, freshman from Minneapolis, finished 9th in Dramatic Interpretation.

In team placements, Bethel was 2nd in Division II (based on entry size) and 3rd in the overall team sweepstakes.

AFA-NIET will be April 3-6 on the campus of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. The 146th annual Interstate Oratory Contest will be April 24-25 at Berry College, Rome, Georgia.

“It truly was a wonderful weekend to be a Bethel Thresher,” Marsh said.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2014-15 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 2014-15. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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