Texas Speech places 2nd Nationally

This past weekend, from April 2-5, 2021, Texas Speech participated in the American Forensic Association’s National Speech Tournament. The tournament was scheduled to have been held at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, but due to the Covid pandemic the contest was held virtually with students appearing from both the UT campus and their residences.


The team advanced 36 of its total 66 entries to the awards rounds, with 21 of those appearing in the national semi-finals (top 12 nationally), and 11 appearing in the top 6 nationally.


Overall, Texas Speech finished 2nd in the country behind eventual champions Western Kentucky University. Bradley University finished 3rd, followed by the University of Alabama and George Mason University. The rest of the top 10 included the University of Nebraska, Illinois State University, Eastern Michigan University, Hastings College (NE), and Seton Hall University.




Evan Ortiz was awarded the 2021 National Championship in Persuasive Speaking with his presentation on “Ideation: Suicide’s Forgotten Predecessor.” Ortiz also narrowly missed the national title in Extemporaneous Speaking (by a single rank), and placed 5th in Impromptu en route to an 11th place overall speaker award. Meera Sam was also awarded a top 20 overall speaker position, placing 13th, and Dago Lopez just missed the top 20 in a tie for 21st speaker.


Dr. Karma Chávez, Chair of UT’s Dept. of Mexican American Studies & Latina/o Studies and a CMS affiliated professor, was awarded the Outstanding Alumni Award for the AFA. Prior to her arrival at UT Dr. Chávez was a competitor at Hastings College in Nebraska, moving on to serve as a graduate student coach at the University of Alabama and then Arizona State University before accepting the Assistant Director of Forensics position at Arizona State. A prolific writer focusing on the rhetorical practices of groups marginalized within existing power structures, Dr. Chávez was recognized for her exceptional work in the academic sphere and we offer our congratulations. 


Graduated M.A. student Charles Ryan Tinlin was also recognized with the Outstanding New Coach award, an honor which had been decided in the Spring of 2020, but which had not been made public yet due to the cancellations of all events in response to the Covid pandemic.


Texas Exes Sarah Courville and Dr. Nance Riffe were also on hand. Courville presented the awards for the category of Dramatic Interpretation, having been the last recipient of the national championship in that category for the University of Texas. Dr. Riffe now serves as the Chair of the AFA National Speech Tournament and oversaw all operations including serving as emcee for the awards ceremony itself.


Individual Awards:


Evan Ortiz, National Champion - Persuasive Speaking
               3rd place - Extemporaneous Speaking
               5th place - Impromptu Speaking
               11th place – Overall Speaker

Kimberly Lee, 3rd place – Program Oral Interpretation
               3rd place – Prose Interpretation
Carli Hall, 4th place – Dramatic Interpretation
Kat Khalilian, 4th place – After Dinner Speaking
David Rodriguez, 5th place – Informative Speaking
Valeria Najera, 5th place – Dramatic Interpretation
Dago Lopez, 6th place – Poetry Interpretation
Meera Sam, 6th place After Dinner Speaking
               13th place – Overall Speaker


National Semi-finalists (top 12 nationally)


Clay Parker – Impromptu Speaking
Erin Swearingen – Prose Interpretation
Fernando Cereceres – Prose Interpretation & Program Oral Interpretation
Kimberly Lee – Dramatic Interpretation
Kyle Ahern – Program Oral Interpretation
Kyle Ahern and Pablo Labiaga – Duo Interpretation
Meera Sam - Extemporaneous Speaking & Informative Speaking
Roy Salazar – After Dinner Speaking


National Quarter-finalists (top 24 nationally)


Braxdon Cannon – Communication Analysis, Poetry Interpretation, & Informative Speaking
Carli Hall and Kevin Ahern – Duo Interpretation
Clay Parker – After Dinner Speaking
Dago Lopez – Dramatic Interpretation & Program Oral Interpretation
Erin Swearingen – After Dinner Speaking
Evan Ortiz – Informative Speaking
Kat Khalilian – Communication Analysis
Kevin Ahern – Prose Interpretation
Kevin Ahern and Kyle Ahern – Duo Interpretation
Meera Sam – Impromptu Speaking & Communication Analysis
Pablo Labiaga – Dramatic Interpretation

For complete results: https://www.speechwire.com/afa2021.pdf