Bettendorf Students Compete at Nationals

June  17, 2013

Four local students are in Alabama this week to see how their rhetorical skills stack up nationally. The Bettendorf High School Speech and Debate team is competing in the National Forensic League tournament, which started Sunday.

Their coach, Joe Rankin, has led the team for eight years, and says the students will compete in several catagories.

"Two of our kids are in what's called 'Extemporaneous Speaking,'" said Rankin, "Which is kind of the most stressful kind you can think of. They walk into a room, they have to pick questions on current events without knowing what those questions might be in advance, but they kind of know the topic area. And then they have to prepare for half an hour and then walk into a room with no notes and give a five to seven minutes speech. I guess it's a stress test. The high stakes testing of the debate world."

Bettendorf junior Eric Hale debated at nationals last year, and Rankin says he was undefeated in the preliminary rounds.   

"His round seven ended up being the person who got second place," said Rankin. "So he got destroyed. But it happens. But our best has been when somebody got into the 'Top 20' one year. And every other year we've come close to breaking into the 'Top 64' in each event, but it's been a tough break. Just qualifying alone is diffuclt. Getting in to that next level is really hard."

The other Bettendorf High School students competing in the national tournament are Madison Glanz-Guessford, Jacob Logan, and Jessica Erbst. The tournament runs through Friday in Birmingham.