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Forensics Society began its 2005-06 season with strong showings in its first two tournaments at Purdue University and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. The team is optimistic that its performances will improve with each competition.

Lafayette is coming off an outstanding 2004-05 season in which it placed third in speech and sixth in debate while competing against over 80 schools at the National Forensic Association’s annual championship tournament.

Four students competed in the Purdue Boilermaker Special tournament Sept. 17-18 in West Lafayette, Ind., which featured the best forensics teams from 25 schools nationwide. Lafayette’s contingent was comprised of returning members of the speech and debate team. Marquis Scholar Mark Kokoska ’08 (Bloomsburg, Pa.), a computer science major, took fourth place in the extemporaneous speech and informative speech events.

“I think we started the year with a bang,” he says. “It was a long trip out west to see some competitive teams, and we showed that we can still hang with the best of them. Anyone who is not expecting big things from Lafayette this year will soon be sorely mistaken.”

Other students competing at Purdue included government and law major Joe Borland ’06 (Wilkes Barre, Pa.), who earned sixth place in impromptu speech and also competed in extemporaneous speech; Marquis Scholar and history and government & law double major Christian Dato ’07 (Poway, Calif.), impromptu speech and Lincoln-Douglas debate; and international affairs major Doug Weltman ’08 (Little Silver, N.J.), extemporaneous speech, informative speech, and Lincoln-Douglas debate.

“Purdue was a great experience,” Dato says. “I was glad to see the team working so well at the beginning of the season. I am confident that we will do well over the rest of the year.”

“Purdue was an exciting opportunity for the forensics team to get the year in gear,” Weltman says. “We saw some very good speech and debate in Indiana, and the long trip was more than justified by the excellent competition. This tournament sets an encouraging and early precedent for the rest of the year.”

Scott Placke, director of forensics, and John Boyer, debate coach, accompanied the competitors. Boyer, who joined the team this past summer, previously was a debate coach at University of Notre Dame, University of Puget Sound, and Central Michigan University.

“I think that we will do really well this year,” Placke says. “The guys all worked hard for Purdue. I am impressed with their attitudes and work ethic.”

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.

Impromptu speech contestants receive short excerpts dealing with items of general interest as well as political, economic, and social issues. They have seven minutes to divide between preparation and speaking, but must speak for at least three minutes. All contestants speak on the same topic.

Three Forensics Society members attended the 12-team Bloomsburg Through the Looking Glass Novice speech tournament Sept. 24. Only students new to college forensics competed at the event. Ng’ang’a Muchiri ’09 (Nairobi, Kenya) placed second in extemporaneous speech, Brad Hock ’09 (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) placed third in impromptu speech and competed in extemporaneous speech, and Marquis Scholar Amy Solomito ’09 (Coopersburg, Pa.) took fourth place in prose reading.

“The tournament was fun,” Hock says. “Extemporaneous and impromptu are two very cool events. I had a great time participating in a final round.”

“I really enjoyed the tournament,” Solomito says. “It was a good way to get my feet wet in the world of forensics. I will definitely continue to be involved in this activity.”

“While I was nervous, I had a great time at my first tournament,” says Muchiri.

Kokoska and Forensics Society alumnus Erik Heins ’05 traveled with the new team members as mentors along with Placke.

“I was really impressed with the performances of our competitors and their desire to learn more about forensics,” Kokoska says.

“The new members of our team have a lot of talent,” adds Placke. “I am very excited about what they will be doing this year. I think they will give our returning members a run for their money.”

Kokoska is president of Table Tennis Club and vice president of Social Gaming Network (SGN) and Haven.

Dato is president of Haven, secretary of SGN and History Club, and a member of College Democrats.

Solomito is a member of Crew Club.

Forensics Society also competed in the West Chester Tournament of Roses this past weekend; results will be posted soon.

Categorized in: Academic News