Texas Speech Places 2nd Nationally

From April 16-19, 2021, the Moody College Texas Speech Team wrapped up its season in competition at the National Forensics Association’s championship tournament. 


The tournament, hosted annually since 1971, is one of the two major national contests for intercollegiate forensics. Over 640 colleges and universities have attended the NFA contest since its inception. The 2021 contest included 78 teams from across the country and over 1,300 total entries, with competition hosted virtually over the Zoom platform in the continuing adjustment to the global covid pandemic.


Sophomore Dago Lopez was recognized as the 11th overall speaker at the tournament, with junior Meera Sam placing 13th overall. In the school standings, Texas Speech finished 2nd behind champions Western Kentucky University, with Bradley University, George Mason University, and Eastern Michigan University also appearing in the top five. The remainder of the top 15 schools recognized in the Open Sweepstakes rankings included (in order) the University of Alabama, Illinois State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Seton Hall University, Lewis & Clark College, Cornell University, Ohio University, California State University at Los Angeles, Arizona State University, and our friends from down the road Texas State University at San Marcos.


Kimberly Lee was recognized as the 2021 NFA National Champion in Prose Interpretation. She joined teammates Erin Swearingen (4th place) and Kevin Ahern (6th) as national finalists in the Prose category—the largest category at the tournament. Lee was also recognized as the National Runner-up in Dramatic Interpretation and placed 4th in Program Oral Interpretation. Junior Kat Khalilian was the National Runner-up in After Dinner Speaking, and was joined by Meera Sam who placed 6th in that category. 


In total, 23 different students were recognized with 60 national awards at the contest, the culmination of a year’s worth of preparation and competition, despite the inability to meet face to face throughout the academic year and the continuing challenges of virtual interaction. The team owes a huge debt of gratitude to everyone at the Moody College of Communication and the Dept. of Communication Studies, and especially to graduate assistant coaches Eva King Reyes and Danielle Castillo, as well as volunteer coaches Karon Bowers and Briana Mier.


Complete results are available at: https://www.speechwire.com/nfa2021.pdf


A full detail of individual awards follows:

Dago Lopez - 11th place, Overall Speaker
Meera Sam - 13th place, Overall Speaker


National Finalists (top 6 in each category)
Kimberly Lee - National Champion, Prose Interpretation
Kat Khalilian - National Runner-Up, After Dinner Speaking
Kimberly Lee - National Runner-Up, Dramatic Interpretation
Erin Swearingen - 4th place, Prose Interpretation
Kimberly Lee - 4th place, Program Oral Interpretation
Kevin Ahern - 6th place, Prose Interpretation
Meera Sam - 6th place, After Dinner Speaking


National Semifinalists (top 12 in each category)
Carli Hall and Kevin Ahern, Duo Interpretation
Dago Lopez, Dramatic Interpretation
Dago Lopez, Program Oral Interpretation
Dago Lopez, Prose Interpretation
Evan Ortiz, Extemporaneous Speaking
Evan Ortiz, Informative Speaking
Fernando Cereceres, Prose Interpretation
Meera Sam, Impromptu Speaking
Meera Sam, Rhetorical Criticism
Roy Salazar, After Dinner Speaking
Valeria Najera, Dramatic Interpretation


National Quarterfinalists (top 24 in each category)
Braxdon Cannon, Poetry Interpretation
Clay Parker, After Dinner Speaking
Dago Lopez, Poetry Interpretation
Dago Lopez and Pablo Labiaga, Duo Interpretation
David Rodriguez, Duo Interpretation
Evan Ortiz, Impromptu Speaking
Fernando Cereceres, Program Oral Interpretation
Fonda Pham, After Dinner Speaking
Jackson Reich, Prose Interpretation
Kat Khalilian, Extemporaneous Speaking
Kat Khalilian, Rhetorical Criticism
Kyle Ahern, Program Oral Interpretation
Kyle Ahern and Pablo Labiaga, Duo Interpretation
Meera Sam, Informative Speaking
Pablo Labiaga, Dramatic Interpretation
Roy Salazar, Informative Speaking
Ryan Adams, Impromptu Speaking
Valeria Najera, Poetry Interpretation
Valeria Najera, Rhetorical Criticism


National Octofinalists (top 48 in each category)
Alexis Alvarado, Rhetorical Criticism
Braxdon Cannon, Dramatic Interpretation
Braxdon Cannon, Informative Speaking
Braxdon Cannon, Persuasive Speaking
Braxdon Cannon, Rhetorical Criticism
Carli Hall, Dramatic Interpretation
Clay Parker, Dramatic Interpretation
Clay Parker, Impromptu Speaking
Erin Swearingen, After Dinner Speaking
Erin Swearingen and Ryan Adams, Duo Interpretation
Fernando Cereceres, Dramatic Interpretation
Jaime Gutierrez, Extemporaneous Speaking
Jaime Gutierrez, Impromptu Speaking
Kevin Ahern, Dramatic Interpretation
Kevin Ahern, Informative Speaking
Kevin Ahern and Kyle Ahern, Duo Interpretation
Kyle Ahern, Poetry Interpretation
Meera Sam, Extemporaneous Speaking
René Otero, After Dinner Speaking
René Otero, Extemporaneous Speaking
René Otero, Rhetorical Criticism


Team Captains: Roy Salazar and Ryan Adams