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Continuing its steady ascent as a top program, Forensics Society took second place at the Pennsylvania State Forensics Association’s State Championship Tournament Feb. 15-16 at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Eight Lafayette competitors placed in 15 events, including Lincoln Douglas debate, dramatic duo, after-dinner speaking, dramatic interpretation, and persuasive, impromptu and extemporaneous speech.

“I’m so proud of the team,” says Rachel Korpanty, a senior history major from Summerville, S.C. “It has really been special helping to build the Lafayette Forensics [Society] over the last three years. In my last semester, it means so much to me to see the team take second in the state. Lafayette is finally getting the attention it deserves.”

“Everything came together perfectly last weekend,” says Michael Lestingi of Centerville, Ohio, a junior pursuing a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering and a bachelor of arts degree with majors in International Affairs and Russian & East European Studies. “The team worked really hard to get to where we needed to be. We have improved so much over the years. It is hard to believe how far we have come.”

Lestingi and Korpanty set the pace by winning blue ribbons in impromptu speech and prose, respectively. Lestingi was named the competition’s fourth best overall speaker, earning second place finishes in after-dinner speaking, informative speech, and Lincoln Douglas debate. Korpanty finished sixth in the best overall speaker standings after taking third in after-dinner speaking and fourth in dramatic duo and interpretation.

Other Lafayette contributors included first-year student Benjamin Berlow of Palmerton, Pa., fourth place in dramatic duo (with Korpanty); sophomore Erik Heins of Center Moriches, N.Y., fifth in impromptu speech and semifinalist in Lincoln Douglas debate; first-year student Colby Block of Boca Raton, Fla., sixth in dramatic interpretation and prose; first-year student Joseph Borland of Wilkes Barre, Pa., sixth in extemporaneous speech; and first-year student Kimberly Moore of Longwood, Fla., sixth in after-dinner speaking. Entering the first tournament of her college career, first-year student Danielle Seger of Fulton, Ill., competed in extemporaneous speech.

“The high quality of competition made every round exciting,” says Berlow. “I’m very glad that we were able to bring the second place trophy home.”

Scott Placke, Lafayette’s director of forensics, planned and coordinated the tournament as executive secretary of the Pennsylvania State Forensics Association and accompanied the team on its trip.

That same weekend, three Lafayette students competed in the Simmons/Suffolk Presidential Love Swing Tournament in Boston: Paul Kritzler, a sophomore history major from Monkton, Md.; Pavlos Lykos, a junior government and law major from Easton, Pa.; and Alex Sarris, a junior government and law major from Northford, Conn. All participated in Lincoln Douglas debate, with Lykos making the quarterfinals on the first day and advancing to the final round of informative speech as well. (A family emergency for the tournament organizer has made results of the second day of competition unavailable.) The students were accompanied by debate coach Jon Honiball.

“This tournament featured some of the best debaters in the country,” says Placke. “This was truly a national level of debate competition. Pavlos did remarkably well to break quarterfinals at his first tournament of the forensics season.”

“I hadn’t competed since last school year, and here I was against some of the best competitors in the nation,” says Lykos. “For my first round, I felt a little nervous, but I quickly found my feet. I realized that I was well prepared for the tournament and that I could hold my own.”

Accompanied by Placke and Honiball, a Lafayette trio entered a tournament at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., last weekend. The 18-school field included University of Pennsylvania, University of California at Long Beach, and Cornell University. Heins took fourth place in both extemporaneous and impromptu speech, and made it to the semifinals of Lincoln Douglas debate. Moore competed in extemporaneous and impromptu speech and debate. Kritzler also competed in debate

“The George Mason tournament was a great experience,” says Heins, who established himself as one of the nation’s best college competitors in impromptu speech at a major tournament hosted by University of Texas-Austin last month. “We went down there with a small team among a lot of larger schools and did fairly well. I’m proud that our team consistently makes a showing at national-level tournaments. Personally, I feel like I’m growing within my event area and am getting more comfortable in what I need to do in order to be successful.”

A number of Forensics Society members will travel next week to the Novice National Tournament at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla.

Lafayette Forensics Society 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 and third again among 26 teams at the Bloomsburg Mad Hatter Tournament in November.

In January, the team took first place in Lincoln Douglas debate within a field of more than 25 schools at a forensics tournament hosted by Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. Some of the top schools and competitors in the nation participated in the tournament.

Competing in a field of 36 schools at University of Texas-Austin Jan. 11-12, Heins made it to the semifinal round of 12 in impromptu speech. He finished just one spot shy of reaching the finals.

Last school year, Forensics Society earned 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