Posted on: November 3, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo from MVCC Speech Instagram

Speech team coaches Krista Appelquist, Damian Samsonowicz, Jeff Rieck, John Nash and Natalie Jurcik celebrate Halloween as they host a tournament at Moraine Valley.


By Noor Awaidah, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

Showcasing their communication skills on their own turf against teams from all over the country, the Moraine Valley Speaking Cyclones won 16 awards, including five individual first place awards, in the annual Appel-Quest Speech Tournament Oct. 28-29.

Named after Moraine communications professor Krista Appelquist, the Appel-Quest tournament has been running for 21 years. This year’s tournament, organized by head speech coach John Nash, included a debate portion that took place virtually on Friday and a face-to-face speech portion on Saturday.

“John Nash runs a fantastic tournament,” Appelquist said. “We had 18 community colleges [and] universities in attendance from all over the U.S., including Kentucky and Indiana. The online debate portion had schools from the east and west coasts. He worked for weeks organizing it, and it came together beautifully.” 

In 2001, Appelquist was given the task to create a speech team at Moraine Valley. The first tournament she hosted was originally called the “Cross-Town Classic,” which Appelquist explains is a “term referring to when the Sox play the Cubs.” She was joined by Nash a few years later, and he took over running the tournament. 

Appelquist admitted that at the time, neither coach “actually knew what ‘Cross-Town Classic’ meant.” However, that name stuck until 2009, when Appelquist took time off to have a child. 

“That is the year John Nash decided to name the tournament Apple-Quest Speech Tournament,” Appelquist said. “He created trophies with apple insignias and an overall apple theme.”

Speaking Cyclones pose for a photo after the awards ceremony.

The name change wasn’t received by Appelquist with too much excitement.

“At first I had mixed feelings,” she said. “In our community it’s a tradition to name tournaments after influential coaches who are dead. In the midst of giving birth, the name change wasn’t exactly a comforting thought.

“John called and proudly told me that he was naming the tournament after me. He quickly added ‘but you’re going to be fine!’”

Today, Appelquist says it’s an “incredible honor” to be recognized at the tournament.  

Nash said it takes months to ensure a smooth-running tournament.

“We start in July reserving the dates and rooms on campus. Then over the next few months we send out invitations and secure judges,” says Nash. He adds that Dean of Liberal Arts Kiana Battle, who was a speech and debate champion herself, contributed to the tournament running smoothly.

Ultimately, Appelquist and the rest of the speech team were happy to share this “unforgettable experience” with each other and the rest of the competitors. She stressed the importance of being part of such a program and said she hopes to “provide an experience for them that leaves an indelible mark on their college career.”

In fact, the Apple-Quest Tournament gives out an Outstanding Alumni Award to those who have left a mark on the speech community even after graduating. This year, it went to Rizamae Enriquez, who was a competitor on the Moraine team from 2013-2015 and team captain from 2014-2015.

“We are so thankful that she returns every year to judge the tournament and to give back to the community,” Nash said.

Moraine Valley awards in Appel-Quest Tournament

  • Aidan McGuire (Mokena) 3rd place in Program of Oral Interpretation and 2nd place in Communication Analysis  
  • Eli Zwiesler (Chicago Ridge) 2nd place in Speaking to Entertain and 2nd place in Dramatic Interpretation 
  • Chayse Mueller (Worth) 4th place in Dramatic Interpretation 
  • Oswaldo Ocampo (Burbank) 1st place in Speaking to Entertain, 2nd place in Improv Acting and 1st place in Persuasive Speaking 
  • Eman Qasmien (Orland Park) 1st place in Novice Persuasive Speaking and 1st place in Extemporaneous Speaking 
  • Kandyce Swain (Blue Island) 4th place in Speaking to Entertain and 1st Place in Prose Interpretation  
  • Gabe Dunkle (Tinley Park) 1st place in Communication Analysis 
  • Julian Zubrzycki (Chicago) 2nd place in Informative Speaking, 6th place in Impromptu Speaking and 5th place in Communication Analysis