Great Debaters make history, again wins National title in Duo Interprepation
(Marshall, Texas) This past weekend, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Great Debaters once again made history. The team finished seventh in the nation behind the University of Texas at Austin, Western Kentucky University, Bradley University, George Mason University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET).
This marks the highest placement of an HBCU at the competition. And for the first time in team history, Wiley’s Great Debaters qualified for 66 events, the maximum number allowed. Every year over 80 colleges and universities compete at the event for the top honors.
On top of a record-breaking year at the AFA-NIET, Wiley College advanced the most competitors in team history to elimination rounds. Sophomores Ella Wade, Fortune Onwunali, and Jaylon Bolden joined seniors Hailey Byerly and Air Kamal in elimination- round competition. On top of advancing into elimination rounds, senior Air Kamal finished third in Poetry Interpretation, and Byerly and sophomore Jaylon Bolden were named tournament champions in Duo Interpretation. The championship is extra bitter sweet, as the topic of the Duo focuses and sheds lights on the beauty and history of HBCUs.
“This national title means so much to us. For those who don’t understand the rich culture and history that HBCUs bring to college students, it’s important for our students to let the world know that HBCUs produce not only great competitors, but great people.”
The AFA-NIET is the second of three national tournaments this year for the Great Debaters of Wiley College. The team is now in OshKosh, Wisconsin, for the National Forensics Association National Tournament.
The Colorado National Tournament caps an already impressive and record- winning year for the Great Debaters. “This team has been breaking records all year long, and hopefully this won’t be our last” said Christopher Medina, Director of Forensics at Wiley College.
Among the team’s accomplishments this season, the debaters won second place in overall sweepstakes and Individual events sweepstakes in March at the 2018 Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive tournament (PKD). Wiley’s debate team also produced national champions in three PKD events: senior Francisco Sierra won first place for Spanish Interpretation; Byerly and Bolden won first place for Duo Interpretation; and Byerly also won first place for Dramatic Interpretation.
Last fall, Wiley College formed the nation’s first HBCU Speech and Debate League, and in January, the school hosted the nation’s first HBCU Speech and Debate Championship Tournament, with 20 schools taking part in the event.