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Sophomore Erik Heins of Center Moriches, N.Y., established himself as one of the nation’s best college competitors in impromptu speech as Lafayette Forensics Society participated in a major tournament hosted by University of Texas-Austin Jan. 11-12.

Competing in a field of 36 schools, Heins made it to the semifinal round of 12 students in impromptu speech. He finished just one spot shy of reaching the finals.

“Erik’s semifinal award is very impressive,” says forensics coach Scott Placke, who accompanied the Lafayette team. “It means that he is among the absolute best in the nation.”

“The tournament was unique,” adds Heins. “The learning experience was more for refinement. With the tough competition, it helped me to discover the intricacies between what is needed to be typically good and consistently great.”

Heins also competed in extemporaneous speech. His teammates and their events were: Colby Block ’06 of Boca Raton, Fla., poetry and prose reading; Joe Borland ’06 of Wilkes Barre, Pa., extemporaneous, impromptu, and persuasive speech; and Marquis Scholar Michael Lestingi ’04, a mechanical engineering major from Centerville, Ohio, after-dinner, impromptu, and informative speech.

University of California-Long Beach, Cornell University, and Northwestern University were among the participating schools.

“This was the biggest and most difficult non-national competition that I have ever seen,” says Placke. “The best of the best were there to compete. Many of the competitors we will see again in final rounds of the national tournament. This was truly a difficult tournament. We had several events that were very close to breaking out to final rounds.

“The tournament was the best possible learning experience for our two first-year competitors. They were able to learn from the best. They now know what they have to achieve.”

Lafayette’s forensics team got off to a strong start this season as a group of nine first-year students earned the top three places in extemporaneous speech, scored the top two honors in impromptu speech, and won several other commendations in a 17-team field at the Bloomsburg Novice Tournament Sept. 28. The team went on to place third at the West Chester Rose Bowl Tournament in October.

Forensics Society scored its highest finish ever at the Pennsylvania State Individual Events Association Championships Feb. 16-17 last school year and continued its remarkable ascent with a second-place finish at the Collegiate Forensics Association Tournament March 2-3 in Ocean City, Md. Nine students competed in 17 speech events and eight debate events at the National Forensics Association Championship Tournament April 18-22 at Berry College in Mount Berry, Ga.

Categorized in: Academic News