Tennessee Tech News


Hard work pays off for Tech speech and debate team


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Posing for a photo after Tech’s award-winning performance at the nationals are (front) Graham and Bettye Nash; (second row, from left) Jacob Metz, Josh Hardin, Amanda Smith, Marcelo Gonzales, Madison Davis, Derrick Sarmiento; (third row, from left) Bob Luna, Tyler Johnson, Gavin Dies, Augusta Betterton and Alex Smith.

Published Thursday May 3, 2018

There is no arguing that Tennessee Tech’s speech and debate team has had a remarkable year. As a matter of fact, 2017-2018 has been one of, if not, the most successful years in the 88-year history of the team.

“We have won the most awards than any year I have been here,” said speech and debate team assistant coach Jacob Metz, who is also an instructor in Tech’s communications department. “We have a group of students who, besides being inherently talented speakers, they have worked exceedingly hard at this activity.”

With a host of novice debaters and speakers, Tech’s speech and debate team held two practices a week while meeting individually with faculty to help prepare for individual competitions. The hard work began paying off once the competitions began in October. Over the course of the debate season, which lasted until the beginning of April, the team as a whole won 13 awards. Among those, Tech was recognized for being the best debate team in the state and then earned a seventh-place showing at nationals.

“I love the team and the comradery and the competitive nature of the sport,” said Josh Hardin, a junior from Knoxville. “I’ve never been on a super competitive team like this before. It’s really a thrill.”

The team had plenty to be excited about, individually. Tech speech and debaters claimed 15 first place awards and wound up with a total of 117 individual honors. Some of the more notable awards include Derrick Sarmiento and Madison Davis becoming the state champion team in novice NPDA debate and Davis claiming the state champion speaker award in novice NPDA debate as well.

“It is incredibly rewarding to see our hard work pay off,” said Sarmiento, a freshman from Lafayette, Tennessee. “Debate allows me to take what I’ve learned in my classes and talk about it in a meaningful way. This is something I will continue in my college career.”

Davis landed the most prestigious award. The junior political science and journalism major from Hendersonville, Tennessee, became the national champion speaker in novice NPDA debate at the Pi Kappa National Comprehensive Tournament at Tennessee State University.

“I really didn’t expect to place in anything because it was at a national level,” said Davis. “This was my first year debating, so I really didn’t expect to do that well at all.”

Tech came away from nationals with seven awards, proving that the speech and debate program is alive and well.

“Our team did quite well at Pi Kappa Delta Nationals in Nashville. We won awards in sweepstakes, debate and individual speaking events,” said English professor and speech and debate head coach Graham Kash. “We lived up to the Pi Kappa Delta Motto: ‘The art of persuasion — beautiful and just.’ We seek to continue the high standards which professor Herman Pinkerton began at Tennessee Tech in 1930.”

The Tech team finished up the season strong by claiming six awards in the last two tournaments, four of which came from sophomore Amanda Smith.

“I think it has been an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” said Smith, a native of Maryville, Tennessee. “I have learned to become a much better speaker and how to approach situations logically.”

It is logical for expectations to be high next season. All but one of the members of the speech and debate team will be returning.

“I have been on the team for four years. It’s been great,” said Marcelo Gonzales, a senior from Peru. “I’m so proud for everyone. It’s kind of sad I won’t be here to see what they can do next year.”

Regardless of what happens next year, the 2017-2018 season has been more than just winning awards.

“As much as I love bringing home trophies, it is in seeing our students grow as academics, as informed and involved citizens, and as better overall people that I find the true value in speech and debate activities,” said Metz. “I can’t possibly express how proud I am of our students. They are all exceptional people that have grown exponentially over the course of the last year. Their dedication, passion and desire has seen them become better students, better critical thinkers and better speakers.”


TTU Speech and Debate Team Awards, 2017-2018

Smoky Mountain Debate Tournament at Walters State Community College in Morristown, TN (Oct. 7, 2017)

Individual Awards:

Gavin Dies and Josh Hardin:  Quarterfinalist Team in Novice NPDA Debate

Derrick Sarmiento:  7th Place Speaker Award in Beginning Novice NPDA Debate

Josh Hardin:  1st Place Speaker Award in Beginning Novice NPDA Debate

BBQ Capital of the World Speech and Debate Tournament at Owensboro Community and Technical College in Owensboro, KY (Nov. 3-4, 2017)

Individual Awards:

Gavin Dies and Josh Hardin:  Semifinalist Team in Novice NPDA Debate

Derrick Sarmiento and Madison Davis:  Semifinalist Team in Novice NPDA Debate

Amanda Smith and Morgan Cagle:  Quarterfinalist Team in Novice NPDA Debate

Alex Smith:  Quarterfinalist in Varsity NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales:  Quarterfinalist in Varsity IPDA Debate

Madison Davis:  8th Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Amanda Smith:  6th Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Josh Hardin:  3rd Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales:  6th Place Speaker Award in Varsity IPDA Debate

Tyler Johnson:  Top Novice Award in Impromptu Weathercasting

Tyler Johnson:  Top Novice Award in Persuasive Speaking

Derrick Sarmiento:  Top Novice Award in Impromptu Speaking

Team Awards:

TTU:  5th Place Debate Sweepstakes Award

TTU:  5th Place Combined (Debate and Individual Events) Sweepstakes Award

Tennessee Porch Swing Speech and Debate Tournament at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, TN (Nov. 10-12, 2017)

Individual Awards:

Derrick Sarmiento and Madison Davis:  Semifinalist Team in Novice NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales and Augusta Betterton:  Quarterfinalist Team in Varsity NPDA Debate

Amanda Smith:  7th Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales:  6th Place in Impromptu Speaking

Team Awards:

TTU:  2nd Place Debate Sweepstakes Award

WYRD Tournament at Transylvania University in Lexington, KY (Dec. 1-2, 2017)

Individual Awards:

Amanda Smith and Josh Hardin – Semifinalists in NPDA Debate

Josh Hardin – Quarterfinalist in IPDA Debate

Josh Hardin – 3rd Place Speaker Award in IPDA Debate

Derrick Sarmiento – 9th Place Speaker Award in IPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales – 10th Place Speaker Award in IPDA Debate

Josh Hardin – 3rd Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Amanda Smith – 2nd Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Derrick Sarmiento – 10th Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Madison Davis – 7th Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales – 7th Place Speaker Award in Open NPDA Debate

Madison Davis – 5th Place in Extemporaneous Speaking

Tyler Johnson – 4th Place in Persuasive Speaking

Gavin Dies – 6th Place in Persuasive Speaking

Amanda Smith – 4th Place in Poetry Interpretation

Marcelo Gonzales – 5th Place in Impromptu Speaking

Augusta Betterton – 6th Place in Dramatic Interpretation

Augusta Betterton – 3rd Place in Radio Broadcasting

Marcelo Gonzales – 5th Place in Editorial Impromptu Speaking

Tyler Johnson – 3rd Place in After Dinner Speaking

Tyler Johnson – 4th Place in Informative Speaking

Individual Recognition Awards:

Marcelo Gonzales – Outstanding Teammate Award

Team Awards:

2nd Place Overall Sweepstakes Award – TTU

The Ruby C. Krider and Alumni Open Tournaments hosted at Murray State University (Feb. 2-4, 2018)

Individual Awards:

Amanda Smith and Josh Hardin – 1st Place in Novice NPDA Debate

Gavin Dies – Semifinalist in Novice NPDA Debate

Amanda Smith – 1st Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Madison Davis – 5th Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Derrick Sarmiento – 6th Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Josh Hardin – 7th Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales and Alex Smith – Semifinalist in Varsity NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales – 2nd Place Speaker Award in Varsity NPDA Debate

Alex Smith – 9th Place Speaker Award in Varsity NPDA Debate

Augusta Betterton – 10th Place Speaker Award in Varsity NPDA Debate

Amanda Smith – 1st Place in Novice IPDA Debate

Josh Hardin – 2nd Place in Novice IPDA Debate

Derrick Sarmiento – Semifinalist in Novice IPDA Debate

Derrick Sarmiento – 1st Place Speaker Award in Novice IPDA Debate

Josh Hardin – 4th Place Speaker Award in Novice IPDA Debate

Amanda Smith – 5th Place Speaker Award in Novice IPDA Debate

Gavin Dies – 7th Place Speaker Award in Novice IPDA Debate

Tyler Johnson – 10th Place Speaker Award in Novice IPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales – Semifinalist in Varsity IPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales – 4th Place Speaker Award in Varsity IPDA Debate

Augusta Betterton – 6th Place Speaker Award in Varsity IPDA Debate

Amanda Smith – 6th Place in Novice Poetry Interpretation (Day 1)

Augusta Betterton - 4th Place in Varsity Radio Broadcasting (Day 1)

Marcelo Gonzales – 2nd Place in Editorial Impromptu Speaking (Day 1)

Madison Davis – 4th Place in Novice Extemporaneous Speaking (Day 1)

Tyler Johnson – 3rd Place in Novice After Dinner Speaking (Day 1)

Tyler Johnson – 3rd Place in Novice Radio Broadcasting (Day 1)

Tyler Johnson – 6th Place in Novice Persuasive Speaking (Day 1)

Tyler Johnson – 6th Place in Pentathlon (Day 1)

Augusta Betterton – 3rd Place in Varsity Radio Broadcasting (Day 2)

Amanda Smith – 5th Place in Novice Poetry Interpretation (Day 2)

Madison Davis – 4th Place in Novice Extemporaneous Speaking (Day 2)

Gavin Dies – 6th Place in Novice Persuasive Speaking (Day 2)

Tyler Johnson – 5th Place in Novice After Dinner Speaking (Day 2)

Tyler Johnson – 10th Place in Pentathlon (Day 2)

Team Awards:

TTU – 1st Place Debate Sweepstakes Award

TTU – 3rd Place Small Entry Individual Events Sweepstakes Award (Day 1)

TTU – 3rd Place Small Entry Individual Events Sweepstakes Award (Day 2)

Tennessee Intercollegiate Forensics Association State Tournament at TSU in Nashville, TN (Feb. 17-18, 2018)

Individual Awards:

Derrick Sarmiento and Madison Davis – State Champion Team in Novice NPDA Debate

Madison Davis – State Champion Speaker in Novice NPDA Debate

Gavin Dies – 2nd Place in Novice NPDA Debate

Amanda Smith and Josh Hardin – 3rd Place in Novice NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales – Semifinalist in Varsity IPDA Debate

Josh Hardin – 5th Place Speaker in Novice NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales – 4th Place Speaker Award in Varsity IPDA Debate

Tylor Johnson – 5th Place in After Dinner Speaking

Madison Davis – 6th Place in Extemporaneous Speaking

Tyler Johnson – 6th Place in Informative Speaking

Tyler Johnson – 3rd Place in Radio Broadcasting

Tyler Johnson – Top Novice in Radio Broadcasting

Tyler Johnson – 5th Place in Pentathlon

Team Awards:

TTU – 1st Place Debate Sweepstakes Award – State Champion School in Debate!

TTU – 3rd Place Combined Debate and Individual Events Sweepstakes Award

Florence Y’all Classic Speech and Debate Tournament at Gateway Community and Technical College in Florence, KY (Mar. 2-3, 2018)

Individual Awards:

Madison Davis and Derrick Sarmiento:  1st Place Team in Novice NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales and Alex Smith:  1st Place Team in Varsity NPDA Debate

Madison Davis:  1st Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales:  2nd Place Speaker Award in Varsity NPDA Debate

Tyler Johnson:  1st Place in Radio Broadcasting

Tyler Johnson:  3rd Place in Informative Speaking

Tyler Johnson:  3rd Place in After Dinner Speaking

Tyler Johnson:  2nd Place in Persuasive Speaking

Derrick Sarmiento:  5th Place in Informative Speaking

Gavin Dies:  1st Place in Extemporaneous Speaking

Madison Davis:  4th Place in Extemporaneous Speaking

Marcelo Gonzales:  2nd Place in Impromptu Speaking

Tyler Johnson:  Top Novice Award in After Dinner Speaking

Derrick Sarmiento:  Top Novice Award in Extemporaneous Speaking

Gavin Dies:  Top Novice Award in Persuasive Speaking

Tyler Johnson:  Top Novice Award in Quadrathon

Tyler Johnson:  2nd Place in Quadrathon

Gavin Dies:  6th Place in Quadrathon

Team Awards:

TTU:  2nd Place Debate Sweepstakes Award

TTU:  3rd Place Individual Events Sweepstakes Award

TTU:  2nd Place Overall Sweepstakes Award

Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament at Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN (Mar. 14-17, 2018)

Individual Awards:

Madison Davis:  National Champion Novice NPDA Speaker (!!!)

Madison Davis and Derrick Sarmiento:  Semifinalists in Novice NPDA Debate

Josh Hardin and Amanda Smith:  Quarterfinalists in Novice NPDA Debate

Marcelo Gonzales:  Quarterfinalist in Editorial Impromptu Speaking

Madison Davis:  Quarterfinalist in Extemporaneous Speaking

Madison Davis:  Excellence Award in Interviewing

Team Awards:

7th Place Overall Sweepstakes Award for Division I Entry Size – TTU

Northeast State Community College Novice Debate Tournament at Northeast State Community College (Mar. 31, 2018)

Individual Awards:

Amanda Smith and Gavin Dies:  1st Place Team in NPDA Debate

Madison Davis and Derrick Sarmiento:  2nd Place Team in NPDA Debate

Amanda Smith:  4th Place Speaker in NPDA Debate

Derrick Sarmiento:  8th Place Speaker in NPDA Debate

Buccaneer Parli Plunder Debate Tournament at Eastern Tennessee State University, Kingsport campus (April 7, 2018)

Individual Awards:

Amanda Smith and Derrick Sarmiento:  1st Place Team in Novice NPDA Debate

Amanda Smith:  2nd Place Speaker Award in Novice NPDA Debate

Award Total for the 2017-2018 Debate Season

Total Number of Individual Awards Won in the 2017-2018 Debate Season:  117

Total Number of Individual Recognition Awards Won in the 2017-2018 Season:  1

Total Number of Team Awards Won in the 2017-2018 Debate Season:  13

Total Number of First Place Individual Awards:  15

Total Number of First Place Team Awards:  2

Total Number of State Champions:  3

Total Number of National Champions:  1

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