Arts & Humanities

Speech and Debate Team Opens Season With a Trophy, And a New Coach

By Janelle Hyatt |

The USU Speech and Debate Team opened the season with a second-place trophy at conference at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho. Team members were (l-r): Head coach Chantelle Gossner, Kaleb Webb, Amrutha Obulasetty, Annie Hayes, Ammon Teare, Bryant Saunders, Rachael Teare, Rieley Frederick, assistant coach Justin Jerez, Bryn Voigt and Brock Redman.

The Utah State University Speech and Debate Team opened its 2019-20 season by promptly earning a trophy at its first tournament.

The 12-member USU team competed with several surrounding institutions at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho, on Sept. 27-28, taking second  place overall, with many of its experienced and novice team members receiving individual awards. 

"This level of success this early in the year is an exciting sign for the season to come,” said coach Chantelle Gossner. “The team members, both new and old, have already shown how talented and hard-working they are. It’s exciting to watch their research and speaking skills develop." 

The tournament was a first for many members of the team, said Gossner, as well as her first competition as coach. Gossner, a 2019 graduate of political science and a member of the team since her freshman year, is taking over for Tom Worthen, the team’s coach of more than four decades. Worthen, who is retiring at the end of this year, continues this final semester as an adviser and instructor. 

The Speech and Debate Team is housed in the Department of Languages, Philosophy and Communication Studies, part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Team members come from across the USU campus, with about 70 percent from CHaSS, said Gossner.

She said the team had a strong showing in speech events. In the category of After Dinner Speaking, Rieley Frederick and Ammon Teare placed second and fourth respectively. 

After Dinner Speaking, said Gossner, is a speech focusing on a social issue. “But it's humorous,” she said. “So the idea is that it's the kind of thing you might sit around the table and talk about after dinner.” 

In Persuasive Speaking, Kaleb Webb took third and Rachael Teare took fourth. In Informative Speaking, Brock Redman and Bryn Voigt earned second and fourth, while Amrutha Obulasetty placed sixth in Program Oral Interpretation.

Students also saw success in debate, Gossner said. Receiving speaker awards in novice division were Amrutha Obulasetty and Annie Hayes in sixth and 10th places. In open division, Voigt won third place; other winners were Rachael Teare (ninth), Frederick (eighth) and Redman (fourth). Obulasetty, Teare and Voigt earned quarterfinalist awards, with Redman finishing as a semifinalist and Webb as the top finisher in their respective divisions. 

The team is looking forward to competing this weekend in the first conference tournament of the season at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., said Gossner.


Janelle Hyatt
Communications Director
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
(435) 797-0289


Chantelle Gossner
Speech and Debate Club

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