Texas Speech gave a record-breaking performance at the American Forensic Association (AFA) National Individual Events Tournament last weekend in Florida, winning their first Team Sweepstakes National Championship title in 14 years.
In addition to the team victory, students won the Overall Individual Sweepstakes for Top Overall Speaker and five out of 11 possible national championships for different individual events, setting a national record.
Cole Hanzlicek, government senior and Texas Speech co-captain, said winning was a special moment because the award was presented by a coach of UT’s winning 2002 team, who also taught current Texas Speech coach Randy Cox.
“[He said] ‘It is truly something remarkable when the student becomes the teacher,’ and then he announced us as the National Championship team,” Hanzlicek said. “It’s really incredible to know that we finally brought it back and we’re the ones that, 14 years from now, could be remembered the same way that we look back on 2002. It feels unreal.”
Farrah Bara, economics senior and team co-captain, won two individual titles, including her second Individual Sweepstakes title as Top Overall Speaker, which earned her the highest point total in the history of Texas Speech. She said her individual success was made possible because of the supportive nature of the team.
“This is an amazing opportunity to showcase how much hard work, dedication, love and care this team puts into the things that we do,” Bara said. “This has given a feeling of success to the younger generations that will continue to drive this team and build our legacy moving forward.”
The remaining three national championship titles for individual events went to government senior Kevin King; Abigail Onwunali, a human development and family sciences sophomore; and a duo consisting of government senior Lizzy Marrero and public relations senior Alexa Thomas.
Cox said the AFA victory is especially impressive because of the competitiveness of the tournament.
”The teams that we’re competing against are absolutely amazing programs, and it just emphasizes the magnitude of the accomplishment,” Cox said. “This is the hardest working group of students I’ve ever had. The amount of time that they have put into this is absolutely extraordinary, and I can’t say how proud I am of all of them.”
Later this month, Texas Speech will go to Indiana for the National Forensics Association’s national contest.