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The Lafayette College Forensics Society had unprecedented success in a tournament Dec. 3 and 4 at Bridgewater College in Virginia, with two participants winning events, one placing third, and the team finishing sixth in a competition that included 21 colleges and universities.

In addition, three members of the team have already qualified to participate in the National Forensics Association’s (NFA) national championship tournament in April.

Jason Paul, a sophomore from Boca Raton, Fla., led the way, winning the Lincoln Douglas debate competition. It was the first win in that event for a member of the Lafayette team, which is in just its second semester of competition.

Paul, the society’s co-founder and co-president, also placed fifth in the impromptu speaking event. He had already qualified to compete in the NFA national tournament in both Lincoln-Douglas and impromptu speaking at the team’s first competition of the season, at Towson University in October.

Brandt Siegel, a first year student from Marysville, Ohio, and Jennifer Gibbs, a sophomore from North Granby, Conn., joined Paul as national-championship qualifiers at Bridgewater.

Siegel placed first among 50 competitors in impromptu speaking, marking Lafayette’s first win in an individual-event competition. He was also a quarter-finalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Gibbs placed third in Lincoln-Douglas, losing an opportunity to try for an even better finish because she was paired against a teammate, Paul, in the semi-final round. In that circumstance there is no debate, and one teammate is chosen to advance.

“I am extremely pleased with our continued success in qualifying students for the national tournament,” says Director of Forensics Bruce Allen Murphy, Lafayette’s Fred Morgan Kirby Professor of Civil Rights. “Winning two events is virtually unprecedented for a school of this size. The fact that we could successfully compete in the team awards category, despite the fact that we were opposed by schools bringing twice as many competitors, is very exciting.

“Even more exciting, however, is the fact that several team members are preparing additional events for next spring’s competitions, that will make us even more competitive in the tournaments to come,” Murphy says.

Murphy said Gibbs’ performance at Bridgewater is especially noteworthy because her only experience in preparation for the tourney came in a class, Political Persuasion and Debate, taught by Murhpy, that she is taking this fall.

Also competing in the tournament for Lafayette were first-year students Emily Murphy of Center Valley, Pa., and Kenya Flash of Coopersburg, Pa., and sophomore Jack Bergquist of Needham, Mass.

Categorized in: Academic News