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The Lafayette Forensics Society gained national distinction with a third-place team finish in National Forensics Association’s (NFA) 18th annual Novice National Individual Events Tournament March 24-26 in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Leading the way were Geoffrey Gresh, a sophomore from Lowell, Mass., who placed second in the nation in extemporaneous speaking, and first-year student Brandt Siegel of Marysville, Ohio, who finished fourth in impromptu sales.

Lafayette’s team also included first-year students Emily Murphy (Center Valley, Pa.),Alison Hindenlang (Randolph, N.J.), and Kenya Flash (Coopersburg, Pa.).

Lafayette traveled farther than any other team to compete in what was the largest Novice Nationals tourney ever, with contingents from 24 colleges and universities in 16 states. Teams ranged from 2 to 15 members. Based on the number of events its members entered, Lafayette competed in the tournament’s middle-sized division.

Bruce Allen Murphy, director of forensics and Fred Morgan Kirby Professor of Civil Rights, says, “Lafayette has gained national visibility in the forensics community in just 18 months through the efforts of these competitors and those who came before them.

“The team performed splendidly in a particularly challenging competition in Corpus Christi that included judges from various regions of the country with widely varying interpretations of the rules,” Murphy continues. “This is the most successful novice team in Lafayette history and its impact on the growth of communications activities on this campus has been, and will continue to be, considerable.”

To place second in extemporaneous speaking, Gresh spoke on the direction of interest rates set by the Federal Reserve Board and their effect on the economy. The event involves making a seven-minute speech on a previously unannounced current-events topic after only 30 minutes of preparation. Gresh also advanced to the semi-finals in impromptu speaking, in which participants deliver a seven-minute speech, without preparation, on a quotation that is presented to them.

“Geoff’s success is a tribute to his hard work over 18 months,” Murphy says. “His speaking style has improved to the point that he is routinely placing first in preliminary rounds.”

In impromptu sales, where Siegel placed fourth, competitors are given an unusual product, slogan, or the linking of a public figure and a product to “sell” to the judge and audience.

“Competitors in the finals were asked to speak on the slogan ‘Corpus Christi: The Premier Gulf Coast Destination,’” Murphy explains. “Brandt’s depiction of a man named Joyce (who sounded a lot like Julia Child) reviewing the previous night’s tournament dinner party kept the judges and audience in stitches. His sense of humor and well-organized impromptu style served him well. It is never easy to be funny on demand, and to have to do it on an unannounced topic in seven minutes, is particularly difficult.”

Murphy says Hindenlang, Flash, and Murphy amassed valuable points in the preliminary rounds of dramatic events (including dramatic duo, prose, and poetry) and impromptu sales.

“The team’s third-place finish would not have been possible without their contributions,” Murphy says. “Their prowess against stiff competition is important because it sets them up for greater success in the years to come, helping Lafayette to continue rising in the national rankings.”

Categorized in: Academic News