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Talking Mules Sweep Tournament at Southwest Baptist University

By Mike Greife, October 6, 2015

WARRENSBURG, MO – The University of Central Missouri Talking Mules Speech and Debate Team took first place in Debate Sweepstakes, Individual Events Sweepstakes and Overall Sweepstakes in regional competition at the Bob R. Derryberry Memorial Speech and Debate Tournament hosted by Southwest Baptist University Oct. 3-4.  

The Talking Mules competed against teams from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Illinois.

“This is the first time during my 15 year tenure as head coach that the Mules have swept a tournament,” said Jack Rogers, Talking Mules head coach and director of forensics. “We earned more than 260 points. Our closest competitors were McKendree from Illinois and Cameron University from Oklahoma, who took second and third, scoring 100 and 96 points respectively.”

In total, the Mules captured 4 team trophies and 32 individual trophies, in this, their first official season opener.

“We are so proud of our students,” said Nikki Freeman, individual events coach. “They really pulled together and worked so hard. They couldn’t have performed better.”

In individual events, Samantha Calloway received second and Top Novice and Kaila Todd received fourth in persuasive speaking; Gavin DePaul placed fourth in after dinner speaking; Samantha Begley placed first in informative speaking ; Begley also received first in communication analysis and Johanna Kelly received second place; Brent Mitchell received first place and Tragan Trahoon third place in prose interpretation; Begley received sixth place in dramatic interpretation; Jordan Ray received first, Dane Schnake received third and top novice in Program Oral Interpretation; the duo of Ray and Trahoon received second place and Mitchell and Todd fourth place in Dramatic Duo, with the duo of Schnake and Pittenger receiving top novice.

Mitchell received first, Tyler Slinkard, third, Todd fourth, and Kelly seventh place in Impromptu Speaking. In combined debate, Mitchell received first place and Slinkard, fourth place; and in pentathlon, Todd earned fifth place and Mitchell, first place.

In Public Forum debate, three teams from UCM advanced to semi-finals. Sam Eames and Samantha Calloway finished in first place, Tyler Slinkard and Brent Mitchell finished in second place, and newcomers Arthur Clifford and Dane Schnake finished as semi-finalists.

“We have always had an excellent debate program, but never had enough of a competitive presence in individual events to combine for a complete sweep,” Rogers added.  “In just a few short years, Nikki Freeman has built up a top notch competitive individual events program. We finished ninth in the nation in the President’s Cup, Division II last year at the National Forensics Association’s Tournament.”

The Talking Mules will host one of the largest tournaments in the nation at UCM Oct.  16-18. For information on the Talking Mules, contact Rogers at


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