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WKU Forensics Team wins NFA national speech & debate championships

WKU Forensics Team wins NFA national speech & debate championships

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 the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire over the April 13-17 weekend.

WKU sent 37 competitors with a total of 132 individual event entries and 11 debate entries to the national tournament. Of the total entries, 99 advanced to octofinal rounds, 55 advanced to quarterfinal rounds, 37 advanced to the semifinal round and 22 events made it to the final round of competition.

WKU was crowned team sweepstakes champion with 916 points, while Bradley University placed second with 731.5 points, and the University of Texas at Austin placed third with 697.5 points. Other top 10 schools included Ball State University, Illinois State University, Eastern Michigan University and Northwestern University. The NFA National Tournament hosted 78 schools.

The team was also crowned team sweepstakes champion in Lincoln-Douglas debate. Other top-ranked schools competing in debate included Hillsdale College, Johnson County Community College, Central Michigan University and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

In addition to the team’s success, forensics team members captured seven out of the 15 individual sweepstakes awards, which recognizes personal success across five events. Junior Lily Nellans was named the second overall competitor at the tournament. Junior Lyric Davis placed third, sophomore Andrea Ambam placed sixth, senior Camille Acosta placed seventh, senior Brent O’Connor placed eighth, sophomore Matt Wisenden placed 13th and junior Murphy Burke placed 15th.

“This is a historic victory for Western Kentucky University,” Director of Forensics Ganer Newman said. “Words fail to articulate how proud I am of this team, not only did we close out a national round of Lincoln-Douglas Debate, our students set a new record for the total number of points scored.”

Newman said the team team’s victory was fulfilling for a number of reasons. “Our students earned seven of the top 15 overall speaker awards, won top speaker in debate, a sophomore championed after-dinner speaking, the majority of the duo final round featured WKU performers, and became the first program in the history of the NFA tournament to co-champion Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Each year, our incredible coaches work tirelessly to place every student in a position to succeed at nationals. However, these results required an almost Herculean coordination and dedication.”

Newman noted that the team’s win was a culmination of a season-long effort.

“The team put in countless hours of practice with coaches and our senior leaders coordinated after-hours peer coaching meetings to make sure every student was perfectly prepared,” he said. “While a very close second place finish at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament provided a little extra motivation, the path to this victory began in June.

“We also could not have done this without the support of our campus community. This team hosted several well attended public events and showcases this season, which also served as rehearsals for final rounds. Every point earned and every new milestone reached is a reflection of an administration and campus community that supports advocacy and healthy debate.

“The success of this week shows that if a team puts in hard work, commits themselves to their advocacy outside of the competitive realm, and supports one another like family, they can make the impossible possible.”

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

  • Andrea Ambam, a sophomore from Peculiar, Missouri, national champion in after-dinner speaking, sixth in individual sweepstakes, semifinalist in informative speaking, semifinalist in poetry interpretation and quarterfinalist in prose interpretation.
  • Mark Allseits, a senior from Englewood, Florida, national co-champion in Lincoln-Douglas debate, fifth debate speaker, quarterfinalist in rhetorical criticism and quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Bailey Rung, a junior from Blaine, Minnesota, national co-champion in Lincoln-Douglas debate, second debate speaker, octofinalist in extemporaneous speaking and octofinalist in impromptu speaking.
  • Jon Sahlman, a senior from Modesto, California, national co-champion in Lincoln-Douglas debate, tenth debate speaker and octofinalist in impromptu speaking.
  • Lily Nellans, a junior from Des Moines, Iowa, second in individual sweepstakes, second in extemporaneous speaking, second in rhetorical criticism, second in impromptu speaking, sixth in persuasive speaking and quarterfinalist in informative speaking.
  • Damon Brown, a senior from Kansas City, Missouri, top debate speaker, quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking, octofinalist in impromptu speaking and octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Camille Acosta, a senior from El Paso, Texas, second in dramatic interpretation, fourth in duo interpretation (with Elijah Thomas), seventh in individual sweepstakes, semifinalist in informative speaking, quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation, octofinalist in after-dinner speaking, octofinalist in prose interpretation and octofinalist in duo interpretation (with Sean Diaz).
  • Brent O’Connor, a senior from Plantation, Florida, second in poetry interpretation, fifth in duo interpretation (with Lyric Davis), eighth in individual sweepstakes, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Blake Knapp), quarterfinalist in rhetorical criticism and octofinalist in after-dinner speaking.
  • Matt Wisenden, a sophomore from Moorhead, Minnesota, second in duo interpretation (with Durwan Green), fifth in informative speaking, 13th in individual sweepstakes, semifinalist in dramatic interpretation and octofinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Durwan Green, a junior from Lewisville, Texas, second in duo interpretation (with Matt Wisenden), third in duo interpretation (with Lyric Davis), semifinalist in poetry interpretation and octofinalist in prose interpretation.
  • Mackenzie Birkey, a junior from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, second after-dinner speaking, quarterfinalist in persuasive speaking, octofinalist in rhetorical criticism and octofinalist in duo interpretation (with Casey Child).
  • Lyric Davis, a junior from Blue Springs, Missouri, third in individual sweepstakes, third in duo interpretation (with Durwan Green), fourth in dramatic interpretation, fifth in duo interpretation (with Brent O’Connor), quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation and quarterfinalist in after-dinner speaking.
  • Murphy Burke, a junior from Des Moines, Iowa, third in after-dinner speaking, fifth in extemporaneous speaking, 15th in individual sweepstakes, semifinalist in impromptu speaking and octofinalist in persuasive speaking.
  • Blake Knapp, a junior from Blue Springs, Missouri, third in prose interpretation, semifinalist in informative speaking, semifinalist in duo interpretation (with Brent O’Connor) and octofinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Lauren Groves, a senior from Bowling Green, third in informative speaking, semifinalist in persuasive speaking and quarterfinalist in after-dinner speaking.
  • Elijah Thomas, a junior from Elizabethtown, fourth in duo interpretation (with Camille Acosta), semifinalist in poetry interpretation, quarterfinalist in informative speaking and octofinalist in prose interpretation.
  • Sam Moore, a junior from Blue Springs, Missouri, sixth in dramatic interpretation, quarterfinalist in prose interpretation and quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Sean Diaz).
  • Brian Anderson, a sophomore from Hodgenville, semifinalist in extemporaneous speaking, semifinalist in impromptu speaking and octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Casey Child, a sophomore from Taylor Mill, semifinalist in persuasive speaking, quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation, quarterfinalist in prose interpretation, octofinalist rhetorical criticism and octofinalist in duo interpretation (with Mackenzie Birkey).
  • Asha Wasuge, a junior from Irvine, California, semifinalist in after-dinner speaking, octofinalist in persuasive speaking, octofinalist in poetry interpretation and octofinalist in duo interpretation (with Tyler McDaniel).
  • Kayla English, a sophomore from Indianapolis, Indiana, semifinalist in after-dinner speaking and octofinalist in rhetorical criticism.
  • Sean Diaz, a junior from El Paso, Texas, quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation, quarterfinalist in duo interpretation (with Sam Moore), octofinalist in dramatic interpretation, octofinalist in prose interpretation and octofinalist in duo interpretation (with Camille Acosta).
  • Natalie Hedberg, a sophomore from Chaska, Minnesota, quarterfinalist in informative speaking, octofinalist in persuasive speaking and octofinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Tyler McDaniel, a sophomore from Indianapolis, Indiana, quarterfinalist in after-dinner speaking, octofinalist in poetry interpretation and octofinalist in duo interpretation (with Asha Wasuge).
  • Michael Rizzo, a junior from Weston, Florida, quarterfinalist in after-dinner speaking and octofinalist in persuasive speaking.
  • Lane Hedrick, a sophomore from Morehead, quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Megan Armstrong, a junior from Morehead, octofinalist in rhetorical criticism, octofinalist in extemporaneous speaking, octofinalist in informative speaking and octofinalist in persuasive speaking.
  • James Baugh, a senior from Manteca, California, octofinalist in after-dinner speaking, octofinalist in extemporaneous speaking and double octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Bradley Wascher, a freshman from Montgomery, Alabama, octofinalist in extemporaneous speaking and octofinalist in impromptu speaking.
  • Claire Champagne, a freshman from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, octofinalist in prose interpretation.
  • Anthony Survance, a freshman from Louisville, octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
  • Alyssa Wilhelm, a freshman from Roseville, Minnesota, octofinalist in dramatic interpretation.
  • Kelly Stone, a sophomore from Louisburg, Kansas, double-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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