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Affirming its standing as a national power in forensics, Lafayette placed third in speech and sixth in debate while competing against over 80 schools at the National Forensic Association’s annual championship tournament.

Besting last year’s performance, Forensics Society won four individual awards to go along with the team honors from the April 18-22 tournament at the University of Akron, Ohio. The individual winners were Marquis Scholars Christian Dato ’07 (Poway, Calif.), a double major in history and government & law, and Mark Kokoska ’08 (Bloomsburg, Pa.), and Trustee Scholar Erik Heins ’05 (Center Moriches, N.Y.), a philosophy major.

Other competitors included Jeremy Bennett ’05 (Riverside, Pa.), a neuroscience major, Joe Borland ’06 (Wilkes Barre, Pa.), a government and law major, Paul Kritzler ’05 (Monkton, Md.), a government and law major, Marquis Scholar Kim Moore ’05 (Longwood, Fla.), a psychology major, Bill O’Brien ’07 (Elmont, N.Y.), and Doug Weltman ’08 (Little Silver, N.J.). Scott Placke, director of forensics, Jon Honiball, debate coach, and JenniferRusak ’04, 2004 National Forensic Association quarterfinalist in debate, accompanied the team.

According to Placke, Dato’s double-octa debate finish places him among the top 32 debaters at the competition. Heins was an octafinalist in debate and a quarterfinalist in impromptu speech. Placke says Heins was among the top 16 of all 78 debaters and the top 24 impromptu speakers out of 188 entries. Extemporaneous speech semifinalist Kokoska was among the top 12 competitors out of 143 entries.

Lincoln-Douglas debate is a persuasive policy debate on traditional stock issues. Competitors are evaluated on their analysis, use of evidence, and ability to effectively and persuasively organize, deliver, and refute arguments. This year’s resolution was “The United States Federal Government should significantly reform the criminal justice system.”

“I am very proud of this team,” says Placke. “They are all great individuals who are wonderful to work with. I am very sorry to see the seniors going, but I am sure they will all do great things. They have amazing potential. Conversely, I am really looking forward to working with the returning students next year. I am sure they will tear up the forensics circuit.”

Forensics Society competitors are excited about their performance at the national championship tournament and the future of the program.

Heins: “After the final tournament of my competitive career, I can say that I’m happy how far I personally, and this team, have come. When I started with this team four years ago, taking third in our division in speech and taking sixth in debate would have only been a pipe dream. This year, however, I saw our team reach new heights and achieve new goals. I think the best part is knowing that after I’m gone, the Lafayette forensics team is going to have good, dedicated competitors, and more importantly, good people left behind to carry on the amazing legacy that we have all created together.”

Dato: “It’s great to end the year with a tournament that brings the entire forensics community together, and I think this past week exemplified why. Whether we’re supporting in-region schools in their victories, sharing evidence and ideas with other debate teams before final rounds, or even playing Marco Polo with people across the nation in a hotel pool, we’re reminding ourselves that forensics is as much about communication and community as it is about trophies and competition.”

O’Brien: “Nationals was a good experience for all of us. We were able to improve upon what we did last year by taking third in our division. It was also bittersweet as we will be losing four great seniors this year. I think our success this year has let them leave on a high note. They will be missed and I hope that I, Christian, Joe, Doug, Mark, and next year’s novices will be able to carry on the great impact that the seniors have had on our team and make them proud of us.”

Moore: “Nationals is always a fun tournament, and it gives me a chance to look back on the year. This year it was even more special because I got to look back on my debate career. At my last tournament with the whole team, I was proud of how much we have improved over the past few years. My freshman year, I never would have dreamed of someone on our team breaking into semis, but the past two years we have shown that we can do it.”

Weltman: “The most valuable element for me was learning from the veteran members of the team. It was very encouraging to see how well we did this year, but at the same time, disheartening to know that our most experienced competitors are leaving. They leave behind very big shoes for all of us to fill next year, and it was an honor to compete alongside them.”

Kokoska: “Nothing could’ve capped off this year better than the national tournament. The tournament in one word: camaraderie. Every person that advanced into a quarter, semi, double-octa, or octafinal did so not just on their own volition, but also with the full support and contribution of the team behind them. I think the third place overall for the team reinforces this fact, that we as competitors make the Lafayette team. More important, however, is the fact that the Lafayette team also has a strong influence on our own development.”

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

Bennett is president of Social Gaming Network; a member of Haven, a student group stressing an alcohol- and drug-free lifestyle, Society for Creative Anachronism, and Lafayette Society for Neuroscience; a tutor for the Academic Counseling Center; a former McKelvy Scholar; and a squad captain for the varsity fencing team.

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

O’Brien is president of Dry Surfers, 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, Social Gaming Network, Lafayette Communications Union, and participates in intramural sports.

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

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

Kokoska is a member of the table tennis club.

Prior tournament reports

National Championship Tournament Preview
Novice National Tournament (Morehead State University), March 5-6
State Championship Tournament (Lafayette), Feb. 26-27

State Championship Tournament Preview
Presidential Love Swing (Suffolk University), Feb. 12-13
Hugs and Kisses tournament (West Chester University), Feb. 6
Tournament of Love (Cornell University), Jan. 29-30 and University of Texas, Jan. 8-9
Holiday Frolic Tournament (Ohio State University), Dec. 3-4
Jack Lynch Tournament (St. Anselm College), Nov. 6
Johns Hopkins, Oct. 23-24 and Mad Hatter (Bloomsburg), Oct. 29-30
Tournament of Roses (West Chester), Oct. 9-10
Season openers at Purdue, Bloomsburg, and Bowling Green
Last season’s national tournament and links to all 2003-04 articles

Categorized in: Academic News