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SMU Speech Team Wins Two First-Place Speaking Awards at Regional Tournament

After a three-year hiatus, team re-launches and wins top awards in both informative and extemporaneous speaking, taking third place overall

From left to right: Spencer Gutierrez, Peter St. John, and Lindsay Barnes

The three-member SMU speech team won multiple awards at the regional Newbie Novice tournament at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth on September 27. It was the first tournament in more than three years for the team, which re-launched this fall.

Spencer Gutierrez won first place in extemporaneous speaking; Peter St. John won first place in informative speaking and second place in persuasive speaking; and Lindsay Barnes won second place in informative speaking.

Extemporaneous speaking is an event in which students have 30 minutes to extemporaneously respond to a current event question and formulate a seven-minute speech to answer the question posed. In informative speaking, students give a 10-minute speech explaining a topic typically unfamiliar but intriguing to an audience, such as a new technology. Persuasive speaking requires a 10-minute prepared speech aimed at convincing the audience about a selected topic.

Although it was the second-smallest team at the tournament, SMU had the highest points scored per student performance and came in third overall. SMU averaged 14 points per student; the overall winner, Texas Southern University, had 18 students on its team and averaged 5.6 points per student.

In an interview in the SMU Daily Campus, speech team coach Ross Sloan said, “I’m sure that the other schools and even the tournament organizers were shocked to see a team show up with only three students and then end up in the top three. More than anything, that should tell you how good each of our students were this Saturday.”

The Newbie Novice tournament is open to competitors with no more than one year of experience at the college level. Competing schools included the University of North Texas, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Texas Southern University, San Jacinto College and Howard Payne University.

The SMU speech team is coached by professors Ross Sloan and Ben Voth and alumna Christina DiPinto and is supported by the Meadows Division of Communication Studies. For more information, contact Ben Voth, director of forensics (speech and debate), at

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