Texas Speech 2024 National Champions

Texas Speech Seniors

Team wins the American Forensic Association national team title for the third year in a row

The University of Texas Speech Team, housed in the Department of Communication Studies in the Moody College of Communication, travelled to the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire on April 5-8, 2024, where for the third year in a row they were recognized with the overall NATIONAL TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP by the American Forensic Association. 

The team amassed a final point total of 538 points to outpace an exceptional field that included George Mason University, who was second with 356 points. Bradley University (320.5 pts), Eastern Michigan University (306.5 pts), and the University of Illinois at Chicago (262 pts) also finished in the top 5 overall programs. Cornell University (262 pts), the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (235 pts), the University of Alabama (210.5 pts), University of Minnesota (185.5 pts) and Tennessee State University (166 pts) completed the top 10. 

Senior co-captain of the team Fernando Cereceres was recognized as the top overall speaker in the country. In addition to winning the national title in Duo Interpretation with partner Valeria Najera, the national title in Prose Interpretation, and appearing in the top 6 in four different categories, Cereceres was also one of 16 students selected as members of the AFA All-American Team. 

The other team co-captain, Kevin Ahern, was a multiple national finalist and was ranked the 7th overall speaker in the country. Carli Hall (8th) and Hiba Faruqi (tied for 10th) were also recognized in the top 10 overall speaker category. 

The team is directed by Communication Studies professor Randy Cox, who will be stepping down after this season, and Dr. Eva Margarita, who takes over the role next fall after having co-coached the team for the last four years. The team is also coached by Communication Studies doctoral student Natalie Wellman, LBJ graduate student Clay Parker, and UT alumni Erin Swearingen, Spencer Schumacher, Rene Otero, Kai Solis, and Karon Bowers. 

Individual national finalists included the following students: 

Fernando Cereceres & Valeria Najera: National Champions - Duo Interpretation 
Fernando Cereceres: National Champion - Prose Interpretation 
Carli Hall: 2nd place - Persuasive Speaking 
Kaylee Frazier: 2nd place - Dramatic Interpretation 
Carli Hall: 3rd place - Dramatic Interpretation 
Kevin Ahern & Carli Hall: 3rd place - Duo Interpretation 
Fernando Cereceres: 3rd place - Program Oral Interpretation 
Hiba Faruqi: 3rd place - Extemporaneous Speaking 
Kevin Ahern: 3rd place - Prose Interpretation 
Fernando Cereceres: 4th place - Informative Speaking 
Jennifer Gonzalez: 4th place - Poetry Interpretation 
Krystal Perez: 6th place - Informative Speaking 
Mercer Schulte: 6th place - Persuasive Speaking

Additional Awards 

National Semi-finalists (top 12 nationally): 

Kevin Ahern - Dramatic Interpretation
Patrick Pham - Dramatic Interpretation
Kaylee Frazier & Braxdon Cannon - Duo Interpretation
Kyle Ahern & Kevin Ahern - Duo Interpretation
Ishika Bhasin - Extemporaneous Speaking
Hiba Faruqi - Impromptu Speaking
Kevin Ahern - Informative Speaking
David Cervantes - Persuasive Speaking
Fernando Cereceres - Poetry Interpretation
Patrick Pham - Poetry Interpretation
Carli Hall - Prose Interpretation

National Quarter-finalists (top 24 nationally): 

Jennifer Gonzalez - After Dinner Speaking 
Kyle Ahern - After Dinner Speaking
Hiba Faruqi - After Dinner Speaking
Fernando Cereceres - Communication Analysis
Wes Barrett - Communication Analysis
Hiba Faruqi - Communication Analysis
Valeria Najera - Dramatic Interpretation
Windsor Bissell - Dramatic Interpretation
Wes Barrett - Extemporaneous Speaking
Alejandra Vadillo - Extemporaneous Speaking
Ishika Bhasin - Impromptu Speaking
Kyle Ahern - Impromptu Speaking
Taylor Whitley - Informative Speaking
Mercer Schulte - Informative Speaking
Hiba Faruqi - Persuasive Speaking
Alejandra Vadillo - Persuasive Speaking
Jake Broyles - Poetry Interpretation
Kyle Ahern - Program Oral Interpretation
Anastasia Sewell - Program Oral Interpretation
Patrick Pham - Prose Interpretation
Kaylee Frazier - Prose Interpretation