In a tournament that included teams representing 15 institutions of higher education, the University of Central Missouri’s Talking Mules finished as the Overall Combined Sweepstakes Champions with the team winning several state championships in individual events and debate.

Team members participated in the Missouri Association of Forensics Activities (MAFA) tournament hosted by Crowder College, Neosho, Missouri, Feb. 14-15..

Jack Rogers, Ph.D., UCM director of forensics/speech and debate, spoke about the Talking Mules’ success, noting, “The team performed beyond all expectations. We have a solid core of returners, but a large group of very talented first-year students who really performed above and beyond themselves. They worked extremely hard and their effort and talent was rewarded by these outstanding results."

He added, “It was an extremely competitive tournament, with three points separating first and second place in debate and individual events sweepstakes. We took second place in both debate and individual events. Truman (State University) edged us out in debate and Southwest Baptist (University) edged us out in individual events, but our combined score put us on top for the first place finish in Overall Sweepstakes and made us the State Champions for 2020. There were also a number of individual and team state championships. As a result, we took home the Director's Trophy for Overall Excellence.”
Rogers said the MAFA tournament is open to other schools outside of the state. Teams representing colleges and universities ibn Missouri, Iowa and Kansas participated.

Tournament results providing the names of each member of the Talking Mules who was honored and how they placed in various events are provided below:

Gage Shrader/Bobbi Gums, Jaggard Williams/Abbie Upshaw: Missouri Co-Champions in Public Forum:

Courtney Callahan/Joshua Boster, Semifinalists in Public Forum

Trenton Hawes: Semifinalist in Lincoln Douglas Debate;

Robert Reece/Ryann Hill: Missouri Champions in Novice Parliamentary Debate

Adina McCall: State Champion in After Dinner Speaking

Gage Shrader: second place and Top Novice in After Dinner Speaking, fifth place in Program Oral Interpretation, fifth place in Extemporaneous Speaking and third in Impromptu Speaking

Jaggard Williams: third in Communication Analysis, second in Program Oral Interpretation, third in Dramatic Interpretation, fifth in Impromptu Speaking, fourth in Pentathlon, and first in Overall Forensicator

Courtney Callahan: third in Prose Interpretation, fourth in Dramatic Interpretation

Cyndi Stanford: State Champion and Top Novice in Program Oral Interpretation, State Champion and Top Novice in Prose Interpretation

Robert Reece: seventh place and Top Novice in Communication Analysis

Ryan Tolbert: fourth in Program Oral Interpretation, State Champion in Duo Interpretation

Ryann Hill: State Champion and Top Novice in Persuasive Speaking, fifth place Novice Parliamentary Speaker

Manny Reyes: seventh place Persuasive Speaker

Grace Kennedy, fourth place in Prose Interpretation, sixth place and Top Novice in Dramatic Interpretation

Abbie Upshaw: fifth place in After Dinner Speaking

Ashlyn Reece: fourth place and Top Novice in Duo Interpretation, sixth place in Prose Interpretation,
sixth place Novice Parliamentary Speaker

Kayla Gross: fourth place and Top Novice in Duo Interpretation

Bobbi Gums: fifth place in Dramatic Interpretation, State Champion Public Forum Speaker

Joshua Boster: State Champion in Duo Interpretation, sixth place in Poetry Interpretation, fifth place
Public Forum Speaker

The Talking Mules forensics/speech and debate program is an opportunity provided within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. To learn more, contact Jack Rogers at

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