UT Speech Team Wins

Texas Speech Team Wins National Tournament

The University of Texas Speech Team, directed by Randy Cox and housed in the Department of Communication Studies, travelled to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln April 1-4, 2022, where they were awarded the overall NATIONAL TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP for the American Forensic Association. The team advanced 54 of its 66 individual entries into the elimination rounds (an all-time record for the contest), and 23 individual entries were advanced to the national final rounds (also an all-time record) placing in the top 6 nationally. Texas Speech was the only school to have students ranked in the national final rounds in all 11 categories of competition. The team amassed a final point total of 651.5 points (2nd all-time), to outpace George Mason University, who was second with 394.5 points, the University of Alabama (364), Eastern Michigan University (268.5) and Bradley University (247.5). Lewis & Clark (220), Illinois State (203), the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (195.5), University of Illinois at Chicago (187), and Seton Hall (182) rounded out the top 10.

Senior Katayoun Khalilian, a Plan II/Pre-Med student, won the national championship in Extemporaneous Speaking. Two students were recognized as part of the 12 person All-American Team, seniors Erin Swearingen (Government) and Meera Sam (Sociology & Government). The team also amassed 6 students who were the national runners up in their events, meaning that by the narrowest of margins (usually by a single final round judge) they just missed winning national titles.

The team is also coached by CMS doctoral student Eva Margarita, Latin American Studies graduate student Danielle Castillo, and UT alumni Jordan Auzenne and Karon Bowers.

For complete details of individual awards and accomplishments, see the website:

Individual national finalists include the following students:

Kat Khalilian: National Champion - Extemporaneous Speaking
Clay Parker: 2nd place - After Dinner Speaking
Evan Ortiz: 2nd Place - Persuasive Speaking

Kimberly Lee: 2nd place - Dramatic Interpretation
Kimberly Lee: 2nd place - Program Oral Interpretation
Meera Sam: 2nd place - Communication Analysis
Valeria Najera: 2nd place - Prose Interpretation
Fernando Cereceres: 3rd place - Program Oral Interpretation
Jackson Reich and Kimberly Lee: 3rd place - Duo Interpretation
Roy Salazar: 3rd place - Persuasive Speaking
Evan Ortiz: 4th place - Impromptu Speaking
Fernando Cereceres and Kai Solis: 4th place - Duo Interpretation
Kimberly Lee: 4th place - Prose Interpretation
Spencer Schumacher: 4th place - After Dinner Speaking
Fernando Cereceres: 5th place - Poetry Interpretation
Kat Khalilian: 5th place - Communication Analysis
Roy Salazar: 5th place - Informative Speaking
Valeria Najera: 5th place - Dramatic Interpretation
Evan Ortiz: 6th place - After Dinner Speaking
Kyle Ahern: 6th place - Program Oral Interpretation
Meera Sam: 6th place - Persuasive Speaking
Pablo Labiaga and Valeria Najera: 6th place - Duo Interpretation
Spencer Schumacher: 6th place - Extemporaneous Speaking

Photo of Texas Speech winning award
Photo of 2022 AFA All Americans
Photos by Kimberly Lee & Valeria Najera

Texas Speech seniors Erin Swearingen and Meera Sam were two of the 12 students selected nationally for the American Forensic Association 2022 All-American Team.

Photo of 2022 AFA Extemp National Champion
Photo by Craig Brown

Katayoun Khalilian was crowned the 2022 National Champion in Extemporaneous Speaking by the American Forensic Association. The national contest was hosted by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Additional Awards

Overall Speakers

Kimberly Lee - 4th place overall speaker
Evan Ortiz - 5th place overall speaker
Meera Sam - 6th place overall speaker
Fernando Cereceres - 7th place overall speaker
Valeria Najera - 15th place, overall speaker

National Semi-finalists (top 12 nationally):

Roy Salazar – Communication Analysis
Meera Sam – Informative Speaking
Meera Sam – Impromptu Speaking
Kat Khalilian – Persuasive Speaking
Kai Solis – Dramatic Interpretation
Jackson Reich – Impromptu Speaking
Erin Swearingen – After Dinner Speaking
Fernando Cereceres – Informative Speaking
Carli Hall – Prose Interpretation
Evan Ortiz – Extemporaneous Speaking
Pablo Labiaga – Prose Interpretation

National Quarter-finalists (top 24 nationally):

Jackson Reich – Prose Interpretation
Meera Sam – Extemporaneous Speaking
Kai Solis – Program Oral Interpretation
Kai Solis – Poetry Interpretation
Erin Swearingen – Persuasive Speaking
Jackson Reich – Persuasive Speaking
René Otero – Extemporaneous Speaking
Fernando Cereceres – Dramatic Interpretation
Evan Ortiz – Informative Speaking
Alexis Alvarado – Extemporaneous Speaking
Clay Parker – Impromptu Speaking
Valeria Najera – Poetry Interpretation
Carli Hall and Kevin Ahern – Duo Interpretation
Erin Swearingen – Prose Interpretation
Carli Hall – Dramatic Interpretation
Braxdon Cannon and Kaylee Frazier – Duo Interpretation
Kyle Ahern – Dramatic Interpretation
Spencer Schumacher – Informative Speaking
Kyle Ahern – Poetry Interpretation
Roy Salazar – After Dinner Speaking