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WKU Forensics Team wins NFA national speech, debate titles

The WKU Forensics Team won both the National Forensic Association National Tournament championship and the National Forensic Association Lincoln-Douglas Debate Team Sweepstakes National championship, hosted this year by Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, over the April 14-18 weekend.

The WKU Forensics Team won both the National Forensic Association National Tournament championship and the National Forensic Association Lincoln-Douglas Debate National championship.

The WKU Forensics Team won both the National Forensic Association National Tournament championship and the National Forensic Association Lincoln-Douglas Debate Team Sweepstakes National championship.

WKU sent 37 competitors with a total of 137 individual event entries and eight debate entries to the national tournament. Of the total entries, 61 advanced to quarterfinal rounds, 38 advanced to the semifinal round, and 21 events made it to the final round of competition.

WKU was crowned team sweepstakes champion with 725.5 points, while the University of Texas at Austin placed second with 611.5 points, and Bradley University placed third with 372.5 points. Other top 10 schools included Ball State University, Illinois State University, Eastern Michigan University, Northwestern University and Arizona State University. The NFA National Tournament hosted 85 schools.

The team was also crowned team sweepstakes champion in Lincoln-Douglas debate, against the largest number of debaters in the tournament’s history: 100. Other schools competing in debate included Lafayette College, Truman State University and Missouri State University.

In addition to the team’s success, forensics team members captured six out of the 15 individual pentathalon awards. The pentathalon award recognizes personal success across five different events. Senior Haddy Badjie was named the third overall competitor at the tournament. Senior Tiffany McLarty placed sixth, senior Lataya Williams placed ninth, senior Paige Settles placed 10th, senior Ashton Garber placed 13th, and senior Jasmine Jones placed 14th.

“This is not just an incredible feat for WKU, this is a major victory for the entire Commonwealth,” Director of Forensics Ganer Newman said. “Our team is comprised of students from diverse backgrounds and nearly half of our students are from underrepresented groups. Winning with such a diverse group of students speaks volumes about our university’s commitment to empowering all voices.”

Newman commended the leadership of the program’s senior class. “Our senior class is comprised entirely of women, over half of whom are women of color,” he said. “This is a bittersweet victory because we know our seniors will be moving on next year. We are so proud of their achievements and we know they will carry championship leadership experience into their future careers.”

Newman noted that the competition this year was strong. “Students from over 80 different universities across the country fought hard for the championship. We would like to congratulate the University of Texas at Austin, who constantly pushes our students to dig through research, formulate the best arguments, craft stronger speeches, and practice constantly with our outstanding coaches until their delivery is perfect. With competition this strong, it took a full team effort to hang onto our championship!”

The win brings a memorable season to an end, he said. “Words fail to describe how proud I am of our students and coaches for all their work to ensure the NFA national championships remain on The Hill,” Newman said.

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 rest and enjoy the time with our seniors, 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 next season.”

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

  • Damon Brown, a junior from Kansas City, Missouri, national champion debate speaker and second in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Haddy Badjie, a senior from Lewisville, Texas, second in poetry interpretation, second in informative speaking, second in duo interpretation (with Andrea Ambam), third in pentathalon, semifinalist in communication analysis and quarterfinalist in persuasive speaking.
  • Carolyn Evans, a senior from Urbandale, Iowa, second in extemporaneous speaking, second in impromptu speaking, eighth debate speaker and octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Lataya Williams, a senior from Falcon Heights, Minnesota, second in dramatic interpretation, sixth in prose interpretation, ninth in pentathalon, semifinalist in informative speaking and semifinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Andrea Ambam, a freshman from Peculiar, Missouri, second in duo interpretation (with Haddy Badjie), semifinalist in after-dinner speaking and semifinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Tiffany McLarty, a senior from Bronx, New York, third in after-dinner speaking, third in dramatic interpretation, sixth in pentathalon, semifinalist in poetry interpretation, quarterfinalist in informative speaking and quarterfinalist in prose interpretation.
  • Paige Settles, a senior from Floyds Knobs, Indiana, third in extemporaneous speaking, sixth in persuasive speaking, 10th in pentathalon, semifinalist in impromptu speaking and semifinalist in communication analysis.
  • Ashton Garber, a senior from Osprey, Florida, third in communication analysis, sixth in informative speaking, 13th in pentathalon, quarterfinalist in dramatic interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Matt Wisenden).
  • Jasmine Jones, a senior from Elizabethtown, fourth in informative speaking, fifth in persuasive speaking, sixth in communication analysis and 14th in pentathalon.
  • Brent O’Connor, a junior from Plantation, Florida, fourth in poetry interpretation and semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Blake Knapp).
  • Lyric Davis, a sophomore from Blue Springs, Missouri, fifth in after-dinner speaking, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Blake Knapp), quarterfinalist in persuasive speaking and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Durwan Green).
  • Lauren Sledge, a junior from Bowling Green, fifth in informative speaking and quarterfinalist in persuasive speaking.
  • Allison Williams, a sophomore from Memphis, Tennessee, sixth in after-dinner speaking, semifinalist in dramatic interpretation, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Curtis Milby), quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Mackenzie Birkey) and quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Mark Allseits, a junior from Englewood, Florida, semifinalist in extemporaneous speaking, 10th debate speaker and double-octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Mackenzie Birkey, a sophomore from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, semifinalist in after-dinner speaking, quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Allison Williams) and quarterfinalist in dramatic interpretation.
  • Blake Knapp, a sophomore from Blue Springs, Missouri, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Lyric Davis) and semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Brent O’Connor).
  • Bailey Rung, a sophomore from Blaine, Minnesota, semifinalist in impromptu speaking, quarterfinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate and quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Curtis Milby, a sophomore from Hodgenville, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Allison Williams), quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Sam Moore) and quarterfinalist in prose interpretation.
  • Sam Moore, a sophomore from Blue Springs, Missouri, semifinalist in dramatic interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Curtis Milby).
  • Lily Nellans, a sophomore from Des Moines, Iowa, semifinalist in impromptu speaking and quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Camille Acosta, a junior from El Paso, Texas, quarterfinalist in dramatic interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Elijah Thomas).
  • Megan Armstrong, a sophomore from Morehead, quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking and quarterfinalist in informative speaking.
  • James Baugh, a junior from Manteca, California, quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking and double-octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Murphy Burke, a sophomore from Des Moines, Iowa, quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking.
  • Casey Child, a freshman from Taylor Mill, quarterfinalist in informative speaking.
  • Durwan Green, a sophomore from Lewisville, Texas, quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Lyric Davis).
  • Elijah Thomas, a sophomore from Elizabethtown, quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Camille Acosta).
  • Matt Wisenden, a freshman from Moorhead, Minnesota, quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Ashton Garber).
  • Brian Anderson, a freshman from Hodgenville, octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

More: Check out the WKU Forensics Facebook page or follow @wkuforensics on Twitter.

Contact: Ganer Newman, (270) 745-6340

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