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Speech-and-debaters ready to take on the unknown

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
Recent program-high of 7 Mustangs set for the first national tournament to be held online.
It’s unprecedented for the Mullen Speech and Debate team in terms of the time, its number of qualifiers and the format for the upcoming national tournament.

Under a worldwide pandemic with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Mustangs qualified seven competitors, their best in at least a quarter-century, and will compete in the first-ever online tournament.

Everything considered, coach Mike Trevithick is ecstatic, especially with the number of Mustangs qualifiers.

“It’s the most based on our look at the records we were able to get from the national tournament in 25-plus years and even beyond that,” he said.

The Mullen qualifiers (with categories) are:

Ethan Griffin, dramatic interpretation.

Zeke Cortez and Madigan Petri, public forum debate.
Ezari Duncan, congressional debate.

And Hector Rodriguez, Andrew Jackson and Madelyn Tran, world schools debate.

The nationals, June 14-20, were to be held in Albuquerque, N.M., but will now be more like the recent NFL Draft, Trevithick said, complete with an early practice run to make sure all electronics will be in order.

For Rodriguez, it won’t be the same as competing in person along with the ambiance that can come with it, but he’s preparing for the best.

“I think it will be completely different online,” he said. “If you go in person, you feel the competitiveness and the atmosphere of everyone. In this case, you don’t have that and won’t necessarily know how you’re doing.

“But I am definitely excited.”

Trevithick said the Mustangs must remain open-minded as “we don’t know how the rules will go.” He realizes his kids “could be competing in their bed rooms ... hopefully, we’ll be able to gather at school.”

He added that depending on the situation and following relevant guidelines of the state, school and families, getting together for organized practices “would be ideal,” but it’s part of the unknown that continues with the COVID-19.

Luckily, Trevithick said, Mullen got through its qualifying tournament, held at Regis Jesuit High School in February, before all of the closures and cancellations.

“We have started the registration process for events and just finished our final selection process,” he said. “Now, we focus on how to set up practices and we’ll work with Mr. (Jeff) Howard (principal).”