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Forensics Society placed first among Pi Kappa Delta (forensics honor society) schools and third overall at the West Chester Tournament of Roses held at West Chester University Oct. 8-9. Seventeen colleges and universities sent teams to the event.

Lafayette had strong performances from many of its members. Trustee Scholar Joe Dudek ’09 (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.) placed first in novice impromptu speech and novice Lincoln-Douglas debate. History major Bill O’Brien ’07 (Elmont, N.Y.) took first in rhetorical criticism and competed in informative speech and persuasion.

“The West Chester tournament was a tremendous success for Lafayette for a variety of reasons,” says O’Brien. “A strong returning core of varsity competitors combined with a fantastic group of novices, both guided by great coaching, yielded a result we can all be proud of. We all contributed to the third-place finish, and I look forward to seeing what this tremendous group can do for the rest of the year. I was thrilled to get back into the swing of things and was happy with the results for both me as a competitor and, more importantly, Lafayette as a team.”

The team had several second-place finishers. Trustee Scholar Beth Wehler ’09 (Gettysburg, Pa.) placed second in Lincoln-Douglas debate and competed in poetry while Ng’ang’a Muchiri ’09 (Nairobi, Kenya) took second in novice impromptu speech, fifth in extemporaneous speech, and competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

“West Chester was a great way to start off the season for a cooperative effort of varsity and novice competition,” Wehler says. “Our team already has a strong cohesiveness. I was proud of the success of my fellow novices in their respective events. The more experienced members provided good insight and humor, which added to the achievement and enjoyment of the tournament.”

Marquis Scholar and computer science major Mark Kokoska ’08 (Bloomsburg, Pa.) placed third in extemporaneous speech, was a semi-finalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate, and competed in impromptu speech. Marquis Scholar Amy Solomito ’09 (Coopersburg, Pa.) took third in novice prose and competed in dramatic duo with Marquis Scholar and double major in history and government & law Christian Dato ’07 (Poway, Calif.). Dato took fifth place in impromptu speech and competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate and poetry.

“This was our first weekend as a full novice and varsity squad,” says Kokoska. “Everyone had an incredible weekend, and I think our team finish shows that.”

Other students competing at West Chester included international affairs major Doug Weltman ’08 (Little Silver, N.J.), who was a semi-finalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate and competed in extemporaneous speech; Tom Gallo ’09 (Verona, N.J.), sixth place in novice impromptu speech; government and law major Joe Borland ’06 (Wilkes Barre, Pa.) and Brad Hock ’09 (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), extemporaneous and impromptu speech; and Kavinda Udugama ’09 (Kandy, Sri Lanka), novice impromptu speech.

Debate coach John Boyer, who accompanied the team along with Scott Placke, director of forensics, was especially pleased with Weltman’s improvement. A semi-finalist placing in Lincoln-Douglas debate is equivalent to a third- or fourth-place finish.

“This was my second tournament traveling with the team, and I noticed a marked improvement by several of the competitors, most notably Douglas Weltman, who improved from a 1-4 record at Purdue to a 3-1 record at West Chester,” he says. “I am very happy with the performance by the entire team and especially the debaters. It is always a successful weekend when you come away from a tournament with four new national qualifiers. Traveling with the team is a lot of fun, and these kinds of performances make me very proud to be a member of the Lafayette forensics coaching staff.”

Weltman notes that Boyer’s presence at the tournament gave the students a lift and ensured that they were ready for the intense competition.

“I have every reason to believe that we will be improving considerably over the course of this year,” he says. “The speech at West Chester is very competitive, and notwithstanding this, our novices showed a veritable tour de force. We have some extremely promising new varsity competitors, and the new team members seem to be getting along well with everyone. John was extremely attentive and supportive and had us well prepared for this tournament. Lafayette’s future is looking brilliant.”

Other thoughts from Forensics Society competitors:

“The tournament was a lot of fun, and the competition was much more intense than that at the Bloomsburg Novice,” Solomito says. “I look forward to applying the judges’ comments to both [dramatic] duo and prose to improve both for the next tournament. It was also nice to travel with the entire team, as I was able to get to know the varsity members better and share in the camaraderie. Forensics is amazing.”

“The competition at West Chester was striking,” says Hock. “The difference between novice and varsity forensics events is huge, which is why I learned so much. I was highly satisfied with Lafayette’s placing third in the tournament, and I look forward to a successful season. Forensics is awesome and fun.”

“The first tournament with the whole team is a very important one,” says Dato. “I was happy with how we’re forming into a cooperative team, and I was especially impressed with how successful the novices were. Everyone put in a lot of effort, and I think it showed.”

“WCU was a really enjoyable tournament,” says Dudek. “This team is just awesome. The interactions with different people were so great not only for forensics, but for college life and social life in general. I loved spending time with all of the people.”

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

Dato is president of Haven, secretary of Social Gaming Network (SGN) and History Club, and a member of College Democrats.

Hock is co-president of McKeen Hall Residence Council, a member of Investment Club and Philosophy Society, and writes for The Lafayette.

Dudek is a member of Tennis Club, Table Tennis Club, Concert Band, and Concert Choir.

Kokoska is president of Table Tennis Club and vice president of Haven and SGN.

O’Brien is president of Dry Surfers, a member of Newman Association, and a tour guide for the admissions office.

Wehler is a member of Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and College Democrats.

Solomito is a member of Crew Club.

Muchiri writes for The Lafayette.

Forensics Society’s next competition will be hosted by Nassau Community College in East Meadow, N.Y., Saturday, Oct. 22.

Prior tournament reports
Through the Looking Glass Novice (Bloomsburg University), Sept. 24 and
Purdue Boilermaker Special, Sept. 17-18

2004-05 national championship tournament

Categorized in: Academic News