JMU Speech Team Earns Top 20 Spot at National Competition

JMU Speech Team 2024

SUMMARY: The JMU Speech Team placed 16th in the nation this past weekend while competing at the American Forensic Association’s National Speech Tournament at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, with two students earning spots on the 16-person 2024 All-American Team.

The JMU Speech Team placed 16th in the nation this past weekend while competing at the American Forensic Association’s National Speech Tournament at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. Importantly, every JMU student-competitor earned points in their events to solidify this phenomenal team placement. This is the first time JMU has placed in the Top 20 since 2011 and it is the second highest placement for the team since at least 2000. 

Additionally, for the first time ever, two JMU students earned spots on the 16-person 2024 All-American Team. These seniors — Lexie Burns ('24) and Arina Drovetskaya ('24) — joined students representing Cornell University, the University of Texas, the University of Nebraska, Eastern Michigan University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the University of Akron, Hastings College, Lewis and Clark College, Belmont University, and Truman State University.

The national team was composed of students from all across campus:


Arina Drovetskaya ('24, Anthropology major, French and Honors minors): National Quarterfinalist/Top-24 speaker in Impromptu Speaking, All-American Team Member

Bonnie Wilson ('24, Elementary Education)

Caroline Chown ('24, Graphic Design)

Lexie Burns ('24, SMAD major, WGSS and Honors minors): All-American Team Member



Alex Furlich (Computer Science major, AAAD and Cultural Communication minors): National Semifinalist/Top-12 speaker in After Dinner Speaking

Sam Rooker (Intelligence Analysis major, Honors minor)


First-Year Team Members

Atlas Richardson (Theatre)

Emily LaBar (Psychology major, Honors minor)

Jacob Brann (Intelligence Analysis and History majors, Political Science minor)

Jake Cruz (Political Science major)

Luce Sampson (SMAD major, Creative Writing and Honors minors)

The team is housed in the School of Communication Studies (SCOM) and is coached by the Director, Dr. Mallory Marsh, Assistant Director, Nathan Selove, and M.A. students Katie Gold and Grace Smith. The Team is indebted to the support we receive from SCOM AUH Dr. Lori Britt, SCOM Assistant Chair Lee Mayfield, SCOM Administrative and Fiscal Assistant Faith Sams, and Interim CAL Dean Dr. Traci Zimmerman.

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by Mallory Marsh

Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 10, 2024

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