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WKU forensics team wins NFA speech, debate championships

The WKU forensics team won both the National Forensic Association National Tournament championship and the National Forensic Association Lincoln-Douglas Debate National championship, hosted this year by Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich., over the April 18-21 weekend.

WKU sent 40 competitors with a total of 181 entries to the national tournament. Of the 181 total entries, 73 advanced to quarterfinal rounds, 44 advanced to the semifinal round, and 28 events made it to the final round of competition.

WKU was crowned team sweepstakes champion with a record 840.5 points, while Bradley University placed second with 509 points, and the University of Texas at Austin placed third with 337 points. Other top 10 schools included Ball State University, Illinois State University, Eastern Michigan University, Gustavus Adolphus College and Northwestern University. The NFA National Tournament hosted 86 schools and more than 1,800 entries this year.

The team was also crowned team sweepstakes champion in Lincoln-Douglas debate. Additionally, senior Spencer Orlowski won the individual debate national championship on a historic 7-0 decision. Other schools competing in debate included Truman State University, Lafayette College, Hillsdale College and Saint Anselm’s College.

In addition to the team’s success, forensics team members captured seven out of the 11 available individual national championships and five of the top 13 individual pentathalon awards. Senior Tyler Rife was named the second overall competitor at the tournament. WKU senior Nick Gilyard placed fifth, Lindsey White placed sixth, junior Austin Groves placed seventh, and sophomore Becky Hall placed 13th overall.

WKU Director of Forensics Jace Lux expressed his happiness with the team’s victory. “There are simply no words to describe how proud I am of this group of students. This was, quite simply, the best WKU has ever done at this tournament. I knew going in to the weekend that we were capable of distinguishing ourselves among the top schools in the country, but I never imagined that we would set the record for the total number of points scored.”

Lux noted that the team team’s victory was fulfilling for a number of reasons. “We had a freshman win extemporaneous speaking, almost every team member advanced something to at least the quarterfinal round of competition, we had a debater in each quarterfinal section and we won the majority of events offered at the tournament. I could not ask for a better representation of this university.”

Lux said this victory brings a memorable season to an end. “When we started the year, we set team goals of winning the Kentucky state championship, the international championship, the American Forensic Association national championship, the National Forensic Association debate national championship and the National Forensic Association speech championship. We met each goal. This year was quite difficult at times, but the students worked hard and persevered, and I couldn’t be more proud to bring the championships back to campus.”

Two weeks ago, the team won the American Forensic Association national championship. In March, the team won the International Forensic Association world championship. WKU remains the only team in the history of collegiate forensics to win all three tournaments in the same year, a feat which it has now accomplished six times.

Individual results from the National Forensic Association National Tournament are as follows:

  • Nick Gilyard, a senior from Miami Gardens, Fla., national champion in persuasive speaking, national champion in duo interpretation (with Ray Roberts), fifth in pentathlon, semifinalist in poetry interpretation and quarterfinalist in after-dinner speaking.
  • Lindsey White, a senior from St. Paul, Minn., national champion in poetry interpretation, second in dramatic interpretation, fifth in after-dinner speaking, sixth in pentathlon and quarterfinalist in informative speaking.
  • Carolyn Evans, a freshman from Urbandale, Iowa, national champion in extemporaneous speaking and third in impromptu speaking.
  • Austin Groves, a junior from Blue Springs, Mo., national champion in dramatic interpretation, fourth in duo interpretation (with Taylor Holcombe), seventh in pentathlon, semifinalist in poetry interpretation and semifinalist in prose interpretation.
  • Ray Roberts, a junior from Houston, Texas, national champion in duo interpretation (with Nick Gilyard) and fifth in poetry interpretation.
  • Elle Pratt, a senior from Fullerton, Calif., national champion in prose interpretation, semifinalist in dramatic interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Tyler Rife).
  • Spencer Orlowski, a senior from Davie, Fla., national champion in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Darius Wilson, a junior from Blue Springs, Mo., second in poetry interpretation, second in duo interpretation (with Lataya Williams), semifinalist in prose interpretation and semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Tyler Rife).
  • Tyler Rife, a senior from Dayton, Ohio, second in pentathlon, third in poetry interpretation, fourth in informative speaking, sixth in prose interpretation, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Darius Wilson), quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Elle Pratt) and quarterfinalist in dramatic interpretation.
  • Lataya Williams, a sophomore from Falcon Heights, Minn., second in duo interpretation (with Darius Wilson) and fourth in poetry interpretation.
  • Paige Settles, a sophomore from Floyds Knobs, Ind., third in extemporaneous speaking and fifth in impromptu speaking.
  • Rebekah Hall, a sophomore from Des Moines, Iowa, third debate speaker, semifinalist in extemporaneous speaking, 13th in pentathalon, double-octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate, quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking, quarterfinalist in informative speaking, quarterfinalist in persuasive speaking and quarterfinalist in communication analysis.
  • Ashton Garber, a sophomore from Osprey, Fla., third in informative speaking.
  • Emma Collins, a junior from Chicago, Ill., fourth in impromptu speaking, sixth in extemporaneous speaking and quarterfinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Taylor Holcombe, a freshman from Blue Springs, Mo., fourth in duo interpretation (with Austin Groves).
  • Nefertiti Dukes, a junior from Miami Gardens, Fla., fifth in extemporaneous speaking, seventh debate speaker, quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking and quarterfinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Justin Rodriguez, a senior from Coos Bay, Ore., fifth in informative speaking and quarterfinalist in persuasive speaking.
  • Lauren Sledge, a freshman from Bowling Green, fifth in communication analysis.
  • Kristina Medero, a junior from Davie, Fla., sixth in informative speaking, sixth in duo interpretation (with Gabriella Devia-Allen) and quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Gabriella Devia-Allen, a senior from Davie, Fla., sixth in duo interpretation (with Kristina Medero) quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Richard Heyne).
  • Haddy Badjie, a sophomore from Lewisville, Texas, semifinalist in persuasive speaking, semifinalist in dramatic interpretation, quarterfinalist in informative speaking and quarterfinalist in communication analysis.
  • Ian Dowty, a junior from Valley Center, Kan., semifinalist in after-dinner speaking and quarterfinalist in communication analysis.
  • Meg Cox, a sophomore from The Woodlands, Texas, semifinalist in communication analysis and quarterfinalist in informative speaking.
  • Jamaque Newberry, a junior from Tamarac, Fla., semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Brent O’Connor) and quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Tyler Prochazka, a junior from Newton, Kan., ninth debate speaker, quarterfinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate and quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking.
  • John Corum, a junior from Auburn, 10th debate speaker and double-octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Tiffany Lewis, a senior from Dubach, La., semifinalist in in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Brent O’Connor, a freshman from Plantation, Fla., semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Jamaque Newberry).
  • Janniqua Dawkins, a junior from Hollywood, Fla., semifinalist in informative speaking.
  • Emma Wilczynski, a senior from Florence, semifinalist in informative speaking.
  • Brittany Broder, a sophomore from St. Charles, Mo., quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking, quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking and quarterfinalist in persuasive speaking.
  • Jasmine Jones, a sophomore from Elizabethtown, quarterfinalist in informative, quarterfinalist in communication analysis and quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • John Reynolds, a junior from Harlingen, Texas, quarterfinalist in dramatic interpretation.
  • Richard Heyne, a senior from Sunrise, Fla., quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Kristina Medero).
  • Sebastian Orozco, a junior from El Paso, Texas, quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Mark Allseits, a freshman from Englewood, Fla., double-octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

More: Check out the WKU Forensics Facebook page.

Contact: Jace Lux, (270) 745-6340.

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