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Led by first-place finishes from Rachel Heron ’09 (Downingtown, Pa.), Mark Kokoska ’08 (Bloomsburg, Pa.), Bill O’Brien ’07 (Elmont, N.Y.), and Amy Solomito ’09 (Coopersburg, Pa.), Forensics Society won a tournament hosted by Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., this past weekend.

Thirteen schools sent teams to the event, including Cornell University and Western Kentucky University, which was ranked second in the nation last year.

Heron, a Marquis Scholar, won first place in all her events. She won prose reading with her interpretation of “Billy Flame’s Wife” by Anne Redish Stampler. Her poetry reading was a presentation on little lives in a big city. For her dramatic interpretation, she chose Linda Griffiths’ Alien Creature. She and Kokoska, a Marquis Scholar and computer science major, won the dramatic duo event using a play entitled Answering the Echo by Larry Harris. (Kokoska also competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate.)

She also won the trithon competition, an award based on cumulative rankings for thetournament’s best overall speaker. To qualify for this award, a competitor must be entered in three or more events.

“This weekend was an exciting competition for the whole team,” Heron says. “I was especially proud of the duo’s performance; it keeps making progress whenever we take it out, and I feel like I’m learning a lot from working with Mark. I love being a member of this team and feeling all the mutual support. I could not be more proud of everyone’s conduct and skill.”

O’Brien’s discussion of problems and solutions associated with plagiarism won first place for the after-dinner speaking competition. He took first place in informative speech with his discussion of the advantages, disadvantages, and implications of Rapex, a new female condom designed to immobilize rapists. He took second place in rhetorical criticism with his discussion of racial implications of the cartoon character Memín Pinguín in Mexico. O’Brien’s argument in support of surveillance cameras in public transportation areas won third place in persuasive speech. He placed second in trithon.

“I was very pleased with the weekend we all had,” says the history major. “It was great that our team worked so hard together in order to earn the first place trophy in team sweepstakes for the second year in a row. I was personally very pleased with how I performed and look forward to getting out for future tournaments. I was also especially proud of Amy for all the hard work she put in to getting two platform speeches up this week. It is very difficult to get one ready for a tournament, let alone two. She put tremendous amount of effort into them and the results showed.”

Solomito, a Marquis Scholar, won first place in rhetorical criticism with her analysis of the UNICEF anti-war ad airing in Europe depicting the destruction of a Smurf village by an air strike. Her discussion in support of the over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception received second place in persuasive speech. For prose reading, Solomito chose Kerry Langan’s “The Dean’s Wife,” which won fourth place. She took third in trithon.

“Our team did very well this weekend, especially in the realm of individual events,” she says. “All of the novices did well and worked very hard to get this far. Our outstanding performance would not have been possible, however, without the awesome support of the varsity team members and amazing coaching.”

Other Lafayette competitors included Trustee Scholar Beth Wehler ’09 (Gettysburg, Pa.), who took third in poetry reading and competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate; Brad Hock ’09 (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), fourth in extemporaneous speech and competed in impromptu speech; Marquis Scholar and double major in history and government & law Christian Dato ’07 (Poway, Calif.), sixth-place speaker in Lincoln-Douglas debate and competed in impromptu speech; Trustee Scholar Joe Dudek ’09 (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.), tenth-place speaker in Lincoln-Douglas debate and competed in impromptu speech; and international affairs major Doug Weltman ’08 (Little Silver, N.J.), who competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Thoughts from other Forensics Society competitors:

“Saint Anselm allowed the novice debaters to see what good varsity competition could amount to,” says Wehler. “After only having experience with novices, this tournament allowed me to see the quality of debate experienced nationally. I was encouraged by the amount of unity and support our team has for one another.”

“This weekend was exciting in that Lafayette placed first,” says Hock. “It was especially rewarding to see members of the team break in multiple events, which includes new members of the team. Overall, a good show.”

“I was impressed by the team at Saint Anselm,” says Dato. “Our speech squad was fantastic, and they proved that they are incredible force to be reckoned with on the east coast. I was particularly happy to see our debaters work with each other, preparing each other for rounds, and supporting each other through the course of the tournament. As always, I am proud to be not only a debater, but part of the larger debate team that Lafayette cultivates.”

“I would first like to give my sincerest congratulations to [Rachel] Heron for her destruction of the competition in every event in which she was entered,” says Weltman. “She clearly has the ‘Midas touch’ for forensics. In all the speech events, we did very well.”

“This weekend was a strong showcase of the individual events portion of Lafayette forensics,” says Kokoska.

Scott Placke, director of forensics, and John Boyer, debate coach, accompanied the team.

“This weekend was the individual event competitors’ time to shine,” says Boyer. “Lafayette took home first place in eight of the 12 categories, led by Rachel Heron, Bill O’Brien, and Amy Solomito. Their success should be congratulated. As a team, Lafayette had an extraordinary weekend, defeating national powerhouse Western Kentucky University in the team competition.”

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

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

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

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

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

Heron is a member of Newman Association, Concert Choir, and College Democrats. She also writes for The Lafayette.

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

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

Solomito is a member of Crew Club.

Forensics Society’s next competition will be hosted by New York University this weekend.

Prior tournament reports

Categorized in: Academic News