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Lafayette hosted the Pennsylvania Forensics Association’s annual championship tournament for the first time last weekend and finished second overall at the event for the third straight year.

Forensics Society competitors earned 22 event finishes in the top six or better, including the top four places in Lincoln-Douglas debate. Marquis Scholars Kim Moore ’05 (Longwood, Fl.), a psychology major, and Mark Kokoska ’08 (Bloomsburg, Pa.) won pentathlon awards, sixth and fourth place respectively, for being the top speakers who participated in five or more events.

Moore finished second in extemporaneous speech, debate, and persuasion and competed in after-dinner speaking and informative speech. Since she won second place in persuasion, Moore qualified to represent Pennsylvania at the Interstate Oratorical Association’s annual competition in Boston, Mass. It is the oldest oratorical contest in the United States, with a field of two contestants from each state since 1872. Last year,Jennifer Rusak ’04, who graduated as a double major in psychology and philosophy, was selected as one of the two Pennsylvania representatives.

“This year’s states was very successful,” Moore says. “Having three undefeated debaters was a first at the state competition. Not only did we shine as a team, individually we were able to do well. Mark [Kokoska] taking first in after-dinner speaking was great and Erik [Heins] winning debate shows how much our team has grown since it started five years ago.”

In addition to winning after-dinner speaking, Kokoska was a debate semi-finalist and took fourth in dramatic duo with Trustee Scholar and philosophy major Erik Heins ’05 (Center Moriches, N.Y.), fifth in extemporaneous speech, and sixth in informative speech. Kokoska also competed in impromptu speech and in dramatic duo with Julie Kumpan ’08 (Danville, Calif.).

Heins finished first in debate, second in impromptu speech, sixth in extemporaneous speech, and competed in dramatic duo with Marquis Scholar Christian Dato ’07 (Poway, Ca.), a history and government & law major. The impromptu final-round quotation was from Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.: “Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” The other debate semi-finalist was Paul Kritzler ’05 (Monkton, Md.), a government and law major. He also finished second in informative speech and competed in rhetorical criticism.

“I couldn’t be happier with the team’s performance,” says debate coach Jon Honiball. “We had the top four debaters at the tournament. Considering that we have never had a state debate champion, closing the tournament by having all four semifinalists is an amazing step forward.”

Among other notable finishes, Dato finished second in program oral interpretation and third in poetry; she also competed in impromptu speech and prose reading. Joe Borland ’06 (Wilkes Barre, Pa.), a government and law major, took third in extemporaneous speech, fifth in impromptu speech, and competed in persuasion. Bill O’Brien ’07 (Elmont, N.Y.) finished fourth in informative speech, fourth in rhetorical criticism, sixth in persuasion, and competed in prose reading. Kumpan participated in prose reading and in dramatic duo with both Kokoska and O’Brien.

“States was a great success for us,” O’Brien says. “The debaters, as usual, were amazing. I’m especially proud of Mark [Kokoska] for doing so well at his first state tournament. We all put forward strong showings. More than that, the camaraderie of the team stood out to me. We were all incredibly supportive of each other and that’s the best testament of the team. Hopefully we can carry this momentum we have established this year into nationals.”

Honiball, Director of Forensics Scott Placke, and administrative assistant Carmela Karns attended the tournament. Benji Berlow ’06 (Palmerton, Pa.), a psychology major, and Doug Weltman ’08 (Little Silver, N.J.) helped at the tournament; Kenya Flash ’03 and Rachel Korpanty ’03 attended and helped judge.

“I am proud of these guys. They represented Lafayette very well this weekend,” says Placke. “They worked really hard for their achievements. Kim [Moore] should be especially proud to be selected as one of the two representatives for Pennsylvania at the Interstate Oratorical Association’s competition. That is quite an achievement.”

“This was a pretty intense tournament for me,” says Kokoska. “Having such a strong team structure for support meant more then ever as we persevered through a long weekend.”

The final-round extemporaneous questions for Forensics Society competitors:

  • Kokoska — “Should other countries be concerned about the feeble U.S. dollar?”
  • Borland — “Can OPEC justify sustaining crude oil prices above $50 a barrel?”
  • Heins — “Why should other countries be concerned about the US deficit?”
  • Moore — “Should Latin America form an integrated economic union like the EU?”

Kokoska, Kumpan, and Weltman will attend the Novice National Tournament this weekend at Morehead State University, Ky.

Forensics Society members are active in other campus groups as well.

Moore is secretary for College Democrats, serves as a campus tour guide and as a March After-School Help tutor through the Landis Community Outreach Center, and is a member of the orchestra, the Psychology Club, the Biology Club, and the Dry Surfers, a technology-oriented and substance-free living group.

O’Brien is president of the Dry Surfers and a member of College Republicans, a campus tour guide, a writer for The Lafayette, a Residence Hall Council representative, and a participant in the Marquis Players, a student group that produces an annual musical to raise funds for charities.

Kritzler is a member of Haven, the Social Gaming Network, Lafayette Communications Union, and participates in intramural sports.

Dato is vice president and treasurer of College Democrats and a member of the Social Gaming Network and Haven.

Heins is vice president of Haven and a member of the Social Gaming Network.

Kokoska is a member of the table tennis club.

Prior tournament reports

Categorized in: Academic News