The WKU Forensics Team placed second at the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament championship, hosted April 6-9 by Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
WKU sent 21 competitors with a total of 66 entries to the national tournament. Of the 66 total entries, 31 advanced to quarterfinal rounds, 21 advanced to the semifinal round and 15 events made it to the final rounds of competition. Last year, the team fielded 38 quarterfinalists, 21 semifinalists and 10 finalists.
WKU placed second in team sweepstakes, and the University of Texas at Austin placed first. Bradley University placed third. Other top 10 schools included George Mason University, the University of Alabama, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Illinois State University, Kansas State University, Hastings College and Wiley College. The AFA National Individual Events Tournament hosted 63 schools this year.
Four members of the team were recognized for personal excellence across several events at the tournament, called the individual sweepstakes award: Andrea Ambam was recognized as the national champion, Lyric Davis received eighth, Durwan Green received 11th and Lily Nellans received 18th. With Ambam’s national championship comes the honor of taking home for one year the perpetual award in individual sweepstakes, which is a 3-foot, 4-inch wooden trophy listing every individual sweeps winner since 1978. WKU now has four names listed.
“We are all so proud of our team’s performance this weekend,” said WKU Director of Forensics Ganer Newman. “We were trailing three teams as we entered quarterfinal rounds on Sunday afternoon. The students remained focused, committed to their messages, and supportive of one another. Their effort produced the best quarters-to-finals conversion rate of any of the top four programs at the tournament.”
Newman said the team’s success at the tournament was the result of a season-long effort. “Our program is comprised of hard working individuals from all walks of life, dedicated to a shared vision,” he said. “Our team members spend countless hours developing their speeches, travelling to competitions and responding to critical feedback. After every tournament, we go back to the drawing board all over again. This process can be exhausting, but it also empowers our students. By the end of the season, you know your ideas have been tested and validated. It was great to see the process yield such an outstanding result for our university.”
Ambam’s individual victory is also a point of pride for the team as a whole, Newman said. “We are a family bound by a shared sense of purpose and pride in our university. Everyone on the team knows how hard Andrea works to perfect her speeches so it was truly inspiring seeing the team cheer her on as she received a standing ovation for her efforts,” he said. “It is such a difficult award to win Andrea is only the fourth individual champion from WKU, and the last time a WKU student was named the best overall competitor in the country was in 2014. Her accomplishments are the result of a collective pursuit of excellence.”
The team is preparing for the final national tournament, the National Forensic Association National Speech and Debate Tournament, hosted in one week at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The AFA national tournament offers individual events such as dramatic interpretation of literature, limited preparation and prepared speaking. The NFA national tournament, however, allows competitors to compete in debate as well as the individual events. Newman said the team hopes to bring back the NFA team championships in debate and individual events.
Individual results from the 41st Annual American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament are as follows:
Contact: Ganer Newman, (270) 745-6340