Wiley College Forensics Team wins National Championship

Updated: 3/31/2014 1:27 AM CST BY TOM JOYNER FOUNDATION

For Immediate Release

March 28, 2014

For More Information Contact:

Tammy Taylor  (903) 927-3385 (Office)

(469) 826-2383 (Mobile)

Championship victory is first by a historically black college

 The 2013-2014  Melvin B. Tolson/Denzel Washington Forensics Society won  the Overall Sweepstakes Championship at the 2014 Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament. In back row from left are : Farah Habad, Eric Robinson, Drake Pough, Lyle Kleinman, Benjamin Turner, Austin Ashford,  and Autumn Locke.  In middle row from left are:  Ki-Jana Hernandez, Jesus Cardenas, Katori Mobley, Nathan Leal, Dominick Taylor, Rachel Garnett,  and Rachel Hancock. In front row from left are : Aaron Tumbaga, Ernest Mack, Robert Hollar, Marcus Allen, Autumnwind Spear, Kayla Hall, Mary Mitchell, Cameron Smith,  and Cortney Tingle.

The 2013-2014 Melvin B. Tolson/Denzel Washington Forensics Society won the Overall Sweepstakes Championship at the 2014 Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament. In back row from left are : Farah Habad, Eric Robinson, Drake Pough, Lyle Kleinman, Benjamin Turner, Austin Ashford, and Autumn Locke. In middle row from left are: Ki-Jana Hernandez, Jesus Cardenas, Katori Mobley, Nathan Leal, Dominick Taylor, Rachel Garnett, and Rachel Hancock.
In front row from left are : Aaron Tumbaga, Ernest Mack, Robert Hollar, Marcus Allen, Autumnwind Spear, Kayla Hall, Mary Mitchell, Cameron Smith, and Cortney Tingle.

(Marshall, Texas )   The Melvin B. Tolson/Denzel Washington Forensics Society of Wiley College has added another historic feat to its list of accomplishments by winning the Overall Sweepstakes Championship of the 2014 Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament. Wiley is the first historically black college to earn this national award.

A first for HBCUs

Wiley’s win comes during a record- making year for Pi Kappa Delta’s prestigious annual tournament – the 2014 event saw 80 schools (with 2,000 entries) competing to prove they have the best forensicators (speech and debate) in the country.

“ We earn victories at Pi Kappa Delta each year, but this  year’s overall championship victory is especially meaningful to Wiley,” said Dr. Haywood L. Strickland, Wiley’s President and CEO. “ We are pleased that  our students performed so well against all these strong teams.  Their accomplishment is a clear reflection of the legacy of excellence at Wiley,” he said.  “We are grateful to Professor Melvin B. Tolson, Denzel Washington, and all who paved the way for this victory to occur.”

Forensic speech and debate is woven into the fabric of Wiley College.  Notably, the College’s 1935 debate team, led by Professor Melvin B. Tolson, defeated the then reigning national forensics champion, University of Southern California.  The 2007 movie,  “The Great Debaters”  tells the story of this competition, and the movie’s star and director, Denzel Washington, donated the funding that helped relaunch the  College’s debate team in 2008.

Wiley’s Forensics Team

Wiley’s 23-member Forensics Team is coached by Chris Medina. The team will next travel to Tempe, Arizona, to compete in the American Forensics Association Nationals – a tournament of champions for selective student who qualify through earlier high tournament rankings.  On the heels of that event, two members of the team will travel to Ypisilanti, Michigan, to compete in the National Forensics Association Nationals.

Wiley’s winners in the Pi Kappa Delta National Championship include:

Jhamiah Dixon, a junior from Port Arthur, TX, excellence in Prose, quarter-finalist in Duo (with partner, Mary Mitchell), excellence in Poetry.

Farah Habad, sophomore from Union City, CA, excellence in Prose, excellence in Impromptu, sixth in Programmed Oral Interpretation, quarter-finalist in Dramatic Interpretation, third in Poetry, third speaker in Public Forum debate, seventh in Pentathalon.

Kayla Hall, freshman from Lewisville, TX, excellence in Prose, excellence in Duo (with partner, Austin Ashford), excellence in Persuasion.

Mary Mitchell, a freshman from Renton, WA, excellence in Prose, quarter-finalist in Duo (with partner, Jhamiah Dixon).

Marcus Rembert, a freshman from Birmingham, AL, excellence in Prose, sixth in Duo (with partner, Ernest Mack), quarter-finalist in Dramatic Interpretation, tournament champion in Reader’s Theater.

Autumnwind Spear, a freshman from New York, New York, excellence in Prose, fourth in Duo (with partner, Drake Pough), outstanding legislator in Congressional Debate.

Drake Pough, a sophomore from Union City, CA, quarter-finalist in Prose, quarter-finalist in Duo (with partner, Eric Robinson), fourth in Duo (with partner, Autumnwind Spear), second in Poetry, tournament champion in Reader’s Theater.

Eric Robinson, a sophomore from Fort Worth, TX, quarter-finalist in Prose, quarter-finalist in Duo (with partner, Drake Pough), semifinalist in Duo (with partner, Dominick Taylor), second in Dramatic Interpretation.

Austin Ashford, a sophomore from Union City, CA, national champion in Poetry , national champion in Dramatic Interpretation, quarter-finalist in Prose, excellence in Duo (with partner, Kayla Hall), second in Programmed Oral Interpretation, semifinalist in Public Forum debate, top speaker in Public Forum debate.

Dominick Taylor, a junior from St. Louis, MO, sixth in Prose, semifinalist in Duo (wither partner, Eric Robinson), semifinalist in Dramatic Interpretation, excellence in Poetry, tournament champion in Reader’s Theater.

Ki-Jana Hernandez, a freshman from Union City, CA, excellence in Impromptu, semifinalist in Programmed Oral Interpretation, semifinalist in Dramatic Interpretation, quarter-finalist and seventh speaker in Novice IPDA debate.

Robert Hollar, a sophomore from Los Angeles, CA, excellence in Impromptu.

Benjamin Turner, a freshman from Antioch, CA, excellence in Impromptu, fourth in Programmed Oral Interpretation.

Jesus Cardenas, a freshman from Union City, CA, semifinalist in Impromptu, semifinalist in Extemporaneous Speaking, fourth speaker in Public Forum debate.

Ernest Mack, a freshman from Flint, MI, sixth in Duo (with partner, Marcus Rembert), tournament champion in Reader’s Theater.

LaQuanda Streeter, excellence in Persuasion, outstanding legislator in Congressional Debate.

Aaron Tumbaga, a freshman from Union City, CA, quarter-finalist in Programmed Oral Interpretation.

Rachel Garnett, a sophomore from Puyallup, WA, excellence in Poetry.

Cameron Smith, a freshman from St. Louis, MO, second place and top speaker in Junior Varsity Lincoln-Douglas debate.

For more information  about the Wiley College Forensics Team, please contact  Coach Sarah Spiker Rainey at  (903)927-3084 or the College’s Office of Public Relations at (903) 927-3385.

The Melvin B. Tolson/Denzel Washington Forensics Society is a competitive speech and debate team, affiliated with Pi Kappa Delta, the National Forensics Association, and the American Forensics Association.

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