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Senior Cade Shelton is National Champion in Prose Speaking

Shelton wins University's first national title at the AFA national competition since 1979.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 4-13-2015

Mankato, Minn. – Minnesota State University, Mankato senior Cade Shelton (pictured), a communications studies major from Fairmont, Minn., won the national championship in Prose Speaking at the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament, held April 4-6 at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore.

Shelton, who was among six Minnesota State Mankato students who competed at this year’s competition, became Minnesota State Mankato’s first national champion at the event since Terry Kiel won in the Drama category in 1979 (the tournament’s second year). Shelton is Minnesota State Mankato’s ninth AFA-NIET All-American since 2001.

As a team, Minnesota State Mankato finished 22nd out of 86 schools despite having only 19 entries at the tournament and competing in the same division as schools who entered the maximum number of 66 events. All schools in the tournament compete together in one open division regardless of program size and institutional support.

“On behalf of the University, I congratulate Cade Shelton on winning the national championship in Prose Speaking,” said Richard Davenport, president at Minnesota State Mankato. “We’re proud of him and the entire speech and debate team, led by Associate Professor Leah White, for all they accomplished at the national tournament and throughout this year.”

Marilyn Wells, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, and David Jones, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, also offered congratulations.

"We continue to be extremely proud of our speech and debate team and cultivate their aspirations and achievements, including Cade Shelton's national championship this year," said Wells.

“I wish to extend my congratulations to Cade Shelton for winning the America Forensic Association’s National Championship in Prose Speaking,” said Jones. “Cade is yet another example of the student excellence that is found at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Congratulations to Cade for achieving his Big Idea.”

Shelton also placed 19th in Individual Sweepstakes (the ranking of a student’s overall performance at the tournament across several events). He earned this 19th overall rank due to his national championship as well as advancing to the quarter-final round of competition (top 24 speakers) in three additional events: Informative Speaking, Poetry Interpretation and After Dinner Speaking.

Shelton’s performance resulted in Minnesota State Mankato advancing to elimination rounds in more events than any other school in Minnesota.

Minnesota State Mankato’s 22nd-place finish was best among public institutions in Minnesota. The University of Minnesota had the next-best finish among public institutions in Minnesota, tying for 45th. Among all Minnesota schools, only Gustavus Adolphus (11th place) and Concordia-Moorhead (20th place) finished higher than Minnesota State Mankato.

All six Minnesota State Mankato students who participated in the tournament helped earn points toward the No. 22 finish. In addition to Shelton, they included: Caitlin Frymet (Sr., Carver, Minn./French and communications studies major); Kaila Beckner (Sr., Albert Lea, Minn./creative writing); Alex Cutschall (Sr., Cedar, Minn./communications studies), Brady Taylor (Jr., North Mankato, Minn./ communications studies); and Aletta Arndt (So., Marshall, Minn./communications studies).

Previous Minnesota State Mankato AFA-NIET All-Americans include: Seth Michael Smith ’01; Chad Kuyper ’03; Heather Kaiser Diersen ’04, Matthew Collie ’06, Emily Kofoed ’07; Jason Reisch ’10, Suzanne Lumberg ’11; and Margaret Pence ’14.

Unlike other All-American designations that recognize athletic performance and academic excellence, the AFA-NIET All-American award includes competitive success, academic excellence as well as commitment to service. Generally less than 20 students in the nation are added to the All-American team each year.

Nearly 500 students representing 86 colleges and universities from across the nation attended the April 4-6 event. Complete tournament results are available HERE. The AFA-NIET homepage is HERE.

More information on Minnesota State Mankato’s speech & debate team is available HERE. For more information, please contact Leah White, associate professor of communications studies and director of the Forensics Program, by phone at 507-389-5534 or by email at

The Department of Communications Studies is part of the College of Arts and Humanities at Minnesota State Mankato.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,376 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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