After Strong Year, Trinity is a Host Site for National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament


photo by Ms. Amy Zuccaro

Seniors Ben McBride and Joseph Eng led the Rocks speech and debate team.

ECHO Staff

Trinity is a host site for the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament, held in Louisville May 27-28.

The Rocks have three teams competing in the tournament: Ben McBride and Joseph Eng, Ian Beierle and Hayden Deitz, and Carson Song and Liam Wahl.

Trinity speech and debate head coach Amy Zuccaro coordinated the THS involvement in the national tournament.  Zuccaro was assisted throughout the year by Mr. Pedro Sanchez-Villa.

The young Rocks team, led by the senior duo of Ben McBride and Joseph Eng, had a successful year that included McBride winning a state title in Congressional Debate in the House of Representatives.

A timeline of the team’s competitions follows: 

In March, five debate Rocks took to Transylvania University to compete in the Kentucky High School Speech League State Tournament. McBride advanced to the finals of Congressional Debate.

The Novice Public Forum teams represented Trinity well with both teams advancing to the semifinal round.  The team of Hayden Deitz and Ian Beierle defeated the team of Carson Song and Liam Wahl.  Beierle and Deitz became the 2023 state champions in Novice Public Forum Debate with a perfect 6-0 record.

Additionally, Deitz was named top speaker of the tournament, and Beierle was named third-best speaker.

The team took fifth place in overall team sweepstakes, and Zuccaro was named KHSSL Debate Coach of the Year.


McBride’s state title contest took place at Centre College in the Kentucky District (state) tournament for the National Speech and Debate Association.  This tournament also qualified students for nationals. In  addition to his Congressional Debate win, McBride was the alternate for International Extemporaneous Speaking and Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking.    He opted to compete in Domestic Extemp at the national tournament, which will be held in Phoenix in June.

Zuccaro was named District Coach of the Year and in contention for National Coach of the Year.


The team competed at the Kentucky High School Speech League State Tournament hosted by Northern Kentucky University. Two Rocks advanced past preliminary rounds.

Freshman Akhil Mariyappa advanced to the quarterfinal round of Impromptu Speaking, placing him in the Top 24 in the state.

McBride advanced to the semifinal rounds of Impromptu Speaking and Extemporaneous Speaking, placing him in the Top 12 of both events at state.


McBride was awarded the Rosemary Cundiff-Brown Service Scholarship.


In February, the novice debate Rocks competed in the Wyatt Debate League tournament, with every debater earning personal and team wins.

In Novice Public Forum, every debater earned an individual speaker award, with Beierle in first, Deitz in second, Song in fifth, and Wahl in 10th.

The two teams advanced to face each other in finals: Beierle and Deitz defeated Song and Wahl for the tournament championship.


The Rocks competed at the regional tournament. McBride and Joseph Eng became regional co-champions in Extemp. Zuccaro was named Regional Coach of the Year for the Louisville Region.

The team placed sixth overall against much bigger teams. Qualifying for state were the following:

In Broadcasting: Chaz Kapfhammer, Beckett Dailey, Daniel Roche

In Declamation: Hayden Deitz, Ian Beierle, William Coon

In Extemp: Ben McBride., Joseph Eng, Carson Song

In Impromptu: Ben McBride, Joseph Eng, Akhil Mariyappa

In Improv Duo: the team of Ben Johnson and Daniel Roche

In Storytelling: Joe Reader


In January, Kapfhammer ’24, Dailey ’26, and Mariyappa ’26 earned membership in the National Speech and Debate Association. The NSDA is a national honor society for speech and debate students.


The team traveled to Lexington to compete at Frederick Douglass High School’s tournament.

Individual award winners were the team of freshmen Ben Johnson and Daniel Roche, who placed second in Improvisational Duo; McBride and Eng, who placed second in Varsity Public Forum; Song, who placed second in Novice Public Forum; Eng who placed sixth in Impromptu Speaking; and McBride, who placed fifth in Impromptu Speaking.

The team earned third place in overall Speech Sweepstakes and third in overall Debate Sweepstakes.

Roberts Sartor and Fernando Browning earned membership in the National Speech and Debate Association.


The Debate Rocks competed in the Shamrock Invitational co-hosted with the Wyatt Debate League. The debaters had an outstanding day.

In Novice Public Forum both teams advanced the semifinal round — Song and Wahl defeated Sartor and Browning.  Song and Wahl (6-0) won the tournament in Novice Public Forum and were named the top two speakers.

In Varsity Public Forum, McBride and Eng won the championship.

The debate team took third in Overall Debate Sweepstakes.


Trinity’s tournament hosted 29 schools from two states and more than 400 entries. Rowan County won the overall Speech Sweepstakes, and Paul Laurence Dunbar won Debate and Combined.


In December, the speech and debate novices competed in the Dunbar Blyton Novice Debate Tournament and Novice Speech Tournament. Browning and Max Corbett placed fourth in Public Forum.  Deitz and  Beierle boasted a 4-0 record to claim the championship.  With the help of teammates Wahl and Song, the team took second place in overall sweepstakes.

Mariyappa placed second in Impromptu Speaking.


The Rocks competed in their first speech tournament of the season at South Oldham. McBride and Eng advanced to finals in Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking.


Eng and McBride (4-1) placed second in Varsity Public Forum Debate in a Wyatt Debate League tournament.


In October, at the Wyatt Debate League tournament, McBride and Eng (5-1) advanced to the semifinals of Varsity Public Forum before dropping on a split-decision ballot.

Corbett and Beierle and Deitz advanced to the semifinals of Novice Public Forum before dropping on a split-decision ballot. Song and Wahl (5-2) advanced to finals of Novice Public Forum and finished second.

Corbett, Song and Wahl earned membership in the National Speech and Debate Association.


In September, the Debate Rocks kicked off their season in the Wyatt Debate League.   McBride and Eng had an impressive showing, clinching another championship in Varsity Public Forum.