Thundering Word dominates on its way to fifth consecutive championship

“Marshall has grown from not even having a program to a top 15 team nationally in a very short period of time.”

Marshall University’s speech and debate team, the Thundering Word, set the all-time state record for points Saturday at West Virginia University at Parkersburg and won its fifth consecutive West Virginia State Forensics Tournament.

The Thundering Word’s five state championships have come under coach Danny Ray, who has produced a championship every year since he has been appointed coach.

“Our results speak for themselves,” Ray said. “This is actually the third year in a row that we’ve set the state record for points. I’m extremely proud of everyone on the team. They put in the work and just continue to improve year after year.”

During its last match, the speech and debate team took home first place in the individual events, debate events and the combined sweepstakes. The team also finished the tournament with the top seven overall competitors.

DeVan Sample, a senior on the Thundering Word, said the team’s dominant performance is indicative of how Marshall’s program has grown in recent years.

“The fact that we’ve had so much success despite student turnover is impressive in itself,” Sample said. “Marshall has grown from not even having a program to a top 15 team nationally in a very short period of time. I couldn’t be more proud to call myself a member of the Thundering Word.”

Ray said while all members of the team had a great outing in its last match, Victoria Ledford stole the show. Ledford, a senior, won eight first place trophies, including six individual events.

“Victoria has been fantastic all year,” Ray said. “Her competitiveness is unmatched.”

Marshall’s next match is set for Feb. 27-29 for the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

Malcolm Walton can be contacted at [email protected].Submitted photo