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WKU forensics team wins NFA national speech & debate title

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 Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, over the April 16-20 weekend.

WKU sent 47 competitors with a total of 185 entries to the national tournament. Of the total entries, 82 advanced to quarterfinal rounds, 40 advanced to the semifinal round, and 22 events made it to the final round of competition.

WKU was crowned team sweepstakes champion with 797 points, while the University of Texas at Austin placed second with 527 points, and Bradley University placed third with 418.5 points. Other top 10 schools included Ball State University, Illinois State University, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University and Arizona State University. The NFA National Tournament hosted 79 schools and more than 1,700 entries this year.

The team was also crowned team sweepstakes champion in Lincoln-Douglas debate. WKU is the first team in history to win Lincoln-Douglas debate for three consecutive years. Other schools competing in debate include Lafayette College, Truman State University and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

In addition to the team’s success, forensics team members captured four out of the 12 available individual national championships and four of the top 10 individual pentathalon awards. The petathalon award recognizes personal success across five events. Senior Austin Groves was named the second overall competitor at the tournament. WKU senior Elle Pratt placed fifth, junior Haddy Badjie placed ninth and junior Paige Settles placed 10th overall.

First-year Director of Forensics Ganer Newman expressed his happiness with the team’s victory. “Words fail to capture how proud I am of this team,” he said. “The work ethic of the individuals involved in our program put us in the best position possible to succeed this year, but it took passion and an unshakable resolve to win the championship.”

Newman noted that the competition this year was extremely fierce. “Our students have a tremendous amount of respect for other successful teams like The University of Texas at Austin, Bradley University, Eastern Michigan University and so many other programs that have demonstrated competitive excellence year in and year out in forensics,” Newman said. “These programs constantly push our students to perform at their very best.”

According to Newman, the team team’s victory was rewarding for a number of reasons. “We broke the record for number of students in quarterfinals, several first year students advance to out-rounds, all of our senior students were recognized as a top 24 speaker in at least one event, and Nefertiti Dukes became the first African American woman to win the Lincoln-Douglas Debate National Championship. It is awesome to see a full year of teamwork and five days of intense competition result in such a historic victory for our university.”

Newman said this win brings a memorable first season as director to a close. “At the beginning of the year, our squad set goals of winning the Kentucky state championship, the American Forensic Association national championship, the National Forensic Association Debate championship and the National Forensic Association Speech championship. We met each of these benchmarks. This year was full of big changes for these students and coaches, but everyone worked hard to lead this team to victory. We are indescribably proud to say the national championship remains on The Hill.”

Two weeks ago, the team won its ninth American Forensic Association national championship. WKU remains the only team in the history of collegiate forensics to win the AFA team sweepstakes, the NFA individual events team sweepstakes and the NFA debate team sweepstakes all in the same year, a feat which it has now accomplished eight times. The NFA national tournament brings the competition year to a close. Work will quickly begin for the next season.

“We’ll take a few days to recharge our batteries and savor the moment, then we start looking ahead to next year,” Newman said. “I’ve got a number of recruitment trips lined up in the next few weeks, and several more over the summer. Our students will be working hard over the summer and will return to campus in the middle of August to begin the 2015-2016 season.”

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

  • Paige Settles, a junior from Floyds Knobs, Indiana, national champion in impromptu speaking, second in extemporaneous speaking, 10th in pentathalon and semifinalist in informative speaking.
  • Emma Collins, a senior from Chicago, Illinois, national champion debate speaker, fourth in informative speaking, semifinalist in extemporaneous speaking, quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking and double-octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Nefertiti Dukes, a senior from Miami Gardens, Florida, national champion in Lincoln-Douglas debate, sixth in impromptu speaking and sixth debate speaker.
  • Sebastian Orozco, a senior from El Paso, Texas, national champion in poetry interpretation, quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Justin Rodriguez) and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Kristina Medero).
  • Austin Groves, a senior from Blue Springs, Missouri, second in pentathalon, third in dramatic interpretation, fourth in poetry interpretation, fourth in prose interpretation, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Darius Wilson), quarterfinalist in informative speaking and quarterfinalist in communication analysis
  • Haddy Badjie, a junior from Lewisville, Texas, second in poetry interpretation, sixth in persuasive speaking, ninth in pentathalon, semifinalist in communication analysis, semifinalist in informative speaking, quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Ray Roberts) and quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Janniqua Dawkins, a senior from Hollywood, Florida, third in persuasive speaking, fourth in communication analysis, semifinalist in informative speaking and quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Elle Pratt, a senior from Fullerton, California, third in informative speaking, fifth in pentathalon, sixth in prose interpretation, semifinalist in dramatic interpretation, semifinalist in poetry interpretation and semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Justin Rodriguez).
  • Tiffany McLarty, a sophomore from Bronx, New York, third in duo interpretation (with Darius Wilson), semifinalist in after-dinner speaking and semifinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Darius Wilson, a senior from Blue Springs, Missouri, third in duo interpretation (with Tiffany McLarty), semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Austin Groves), quarterfinalist in after-dinner speaking and quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Jamaque Newberry, a senior from Tamarac, Florida, fifth in duo interpretation (with Brent O’Connor), fifth in poetry interpretation and quarterfinalist in prose interpretation.
  • Jasmine Jones, a junior from Elizabethtown, fifth in communication analysis and fifth in informative speaking.
  • Kristina Medero, a senior from Davie, Florida, fifth in persuasive speaking, semifinalist in poetry interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Sebastian Orozco).
  • Brent O’Connor, a sophomore from Plantation, Florida, fifth in duo interpretation (with Jamaque Newberry) and quarterfinalist in prose interpretation.
  • Damon Brown, a junior from Kansas City, Missouri, fifth debate speaker and octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • John Corum, a senior from Auburn, second debate speaker, fifth in extemporaneous speaking and double-octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Ray Roberts, a senior from Houston, Texas, semifinalist in dramatic interpretation, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Lataya Williams), quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Haddy Badjie).
  • Lataya Williams, a junior from Falcon Heights, Minnesota, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Ray Roberts), semifinalist in informative speaking and quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Carolyn Evans, a sophomore from Urbandale, Iowa, semifinalist in communication analysis, quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking, quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking and double-octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Justin Rodriguez, a senior from Coos Bay, Oregon, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Elle Pratt), quarterfinalist in informative speaking, quarterfinalist in dramatic interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Sebastian Orozco)
  • Murphy Burke, a freshman from Des Moines, Iowa, semifinalist in impromptu speaking, quarterfinalist in communication analysis and quarterfinalist in persuasive speaking.
  • Michael Rizzo, a freshman from Weston, Florida, semifinalist in persuasive speaking and quarterfinalist in informative speaking.
  • Jackson Sanders, a sophomore from Cynthiana, quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking, quarterfinalist in communication analysis, quarterfinalist in informative speaking and quarterfinalist in persuasive speaking.
  • Lily Nellans, a freshman from Des Moines, Iowa, quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking, quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking and quarterfinalist in persuasive speaking.
  • Ashton Garber, a junior from Osprey, Florida, quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Blake Knapp) and quarterfinalist in informative speaking.
  • Haywood Hogan, a senior from Los Angeles, quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Durwan Green).
  • Blake Knapp, a freshman from Blue Springs, Missouri, quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Ashton Garber).
  • Tyler Prochazka, a senior from Newton, Kansas, quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking and quarterfinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Mark Allseits, a sophomore from Englewood, Florida, quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking and octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Bailey Rung, a freshman from Blaine, Minnesota, quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking and octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Brittany Broder, a junior from St. Charles, Missouri, quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking.
  • Lyric Davis, a freshman from Blue Springs, Missouri, quarterfinalist in dramatic interpretation.
  • Ellis Fraser, a senior from Hodgenville, quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking.
  • Durwan Green, a freshman from Lewisville, Texas, quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Haywood Hogan).
  • John Reynolds, a senior from Harlingen, Texas, quarterfinalist in prose interpretation.

More: Check out the WKU Forensics Facebook page.

Contact: Ganer Newman, (270) 745-6340

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