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WKU Forensics Team wins 9th AFA national championship

The WKU Forensics Team won its ninth American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament championship, hosted this year by Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

WKU sent 26 competitors with a total of 66 entries to the April 3-6 national tournament. Of the 66 total entries, 36 advanced to quarterfinal rounds, 24 advanced to the semifinal round, and 17 events made it to the final rounds of competition.

WKU was crowned team sweepstakes champion with 520.5 points, while the University of Texas at Austin placed second with 516.5 points and George Mason University placed third with 376.5 points. Other top 10 schools included Bradley University, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Illinois State University, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, the University of Alabama, the University of Northern Iowa and Doane College. The AFA National Individual Events Tournament hosted 86 schools this year, with 775 competitors.

In addition to the team’s success, forensics team members captured two of the top 10 individual sweepstakes awards. Senior Ray Roberts was named second overall, while senior Elle Pratt was named sixth overall.

Additionally, senior Kristina Medero was named a member of the AFA All-American Team. Each year, the AFA selects 12 students from across the nation to represent excellence in forensics competition, academics and community service.

WKU Director of Forensics Ganer Newman attributed the team’s success to months of hard work. “Our students were unwavering in their determination to hold onto our national title and the results are proof of their work ethic,” he said. “It was an extremely tight race. It was announced as one of the closest margins in the history of the tournament, but our students never gave up. The hard work of our students and coaches over the course of the year put us in a strong position to be among the nation’s best, but the passion and perseverance of our students earned our team the championship.”

Roberts’ and Pratt’s individual victories are also a point of pride for the team as a whole, Newman said. “This team really is a family,” he said. “Seeing two of our senior students recognized as top 10 overall speakers in the country was a moving experience for all of us.”

The team is preparing for the final national tournament, the National Forensic Association National Speech and Debate Tournament, on April 16-20 at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

The AFA national tournament offers individual events such as dramatic interpretation of literature, limited preparation and public speaking. The NFA national tournament allows competitors to compete in debate as well as the individual events. Newman said the team hopes to bring back NFA team championships in debate and individual events.

On March 28, WKU won its 25th consecutive Kentucky Forensic Association championship.

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

  • Ray Roberts, a senior from Houston, Texas, national champion in poetry interpretation, second in quadrathon, third in duo interpretation (with Lataya Williams), fourth in dramatic interpretation and fourth in programmed oral interpretation.
  • Elle Pratt, a senior from Fullerton, California, second in informative speaking, third in poetry interpretation, sixth in quadrathon, semifinalist in prose interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Justin Rodriguez).
  • Nefertiti Dukes, a senior from Miami Gardens, Florida, second in impromptu speaking and semifinalist in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Haddy Badjie, a junior from Lewisville, Texas, third in informative speaking and semifinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Lataya Williams, a junior from Falcon Heights, Minnesota, third in duo interpretation (with Ray Roberts) and fourth in poetry interpretation.
  • Jamaque Newberry, a senior from Tamarac, Florida, fourth in prose interpretation and fifth in duo interpretation (with Brent O’Connor).
  • Austin Groves, a senior from Blue Springs, Missouri, fourth in duo interpretation (with Darius Wilson) and sixth in poetry interpretation.
  • Carolyn Evans, a sophomore from Urbandale, Iowa, fourth in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Darius Wilson, a senior from Blue Springs, Missouri, fourth in duo interpretation (with Austin Groves).
  • Kristina Medero, a senior from Davie, Florida, fifth in informative speaking, semifinalist in dramatic interpretation and quarterfinalist in persuasive speaking.
  • Sebastian Orozco, a senior from El Paso, Texas, fifth in poetry interpretation and quarterfinalist in programmed oral interpretation.
  • Brent O’Connor, a sophomore from Plantation, Florida, fifth in duo interpretation (with Jamaque Newberry).
  • Ashton Garber, a junior from Osprey, Florida, sixth in informative speaking.
  • Tiffany McLarty, a sophomore from Bronx, New York, semifinalist in after-dinner speaking and semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Lyric Davis).
  • Paige Settles, a junior from Floyds Knobs, Indiana, semifinalist in extemporaneous speaking, quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking and quarterfinalist in communication analysis.
  • Lyric Davis, a freshman from Blue Springs, Missouri, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Tiffany McLarty).
  • Janniqua Dawkins, a senior from Hollywood, Florida, quarterfinalist in informative speaking, quarterfinalist in communication analysis and quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Jackson Sanders, a sophomore from Cynthiana, quarterfinalist in informative speaking.
  • Jasmine Jones, a junior from Elizabethtown, quarterfinalist in informative speaking.
  • John Reynolds, a senior from Harlingen, Texas, quarterfinalist in after-dinner speaking.
  • Emma Collins, a senior from Chicago, Illinois, quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Justin Rodriguez, a senior from Coos Bay, Oregon, quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Elle Pratt).

More: Check out the WKU Forensics Facebook page.

Contact: Ganer Newman, (270) 745-6340

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