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Led by first-place finishes from Mark Kokoska ’08 (Bloomsburg, Pa.), Rachel Heron ’09 (Downingtown, Pa.), Christian Dato ’07 (Poway, Calif.), and Joe Borland ’06 (Wilkes Barre, Pa.), Forensics Society placed third at the Big Apple Swing tournament hosted by New York University this past weekend. Teams from Cornell University, George Mason University, and 17 other colleges and universities competed.

Marquis Scholars Kokoska and Heron took first place in the dramatic duo event. Kokoska also was a first-place speaker in Lincoln-Douglas debate. He placed second in extemporaneous speech, third in impromptu speech, was a semi-finalist in debate, and competed in informative speech. Heron, who was best overall speaker of the Saint Anselm tournament, placed third in dramatic interpretation and competed in poetry and prose reading.

“This weekend was phenomenal for the team,” says Kokoska, a computer science major. “Notable achievements include the strong showing in extemporaneous [speech] finals, the debate close-out, and the first-place duo. We all banded together for a very strong showing. As happy as I am about my own personal success, it is the growth of the team as the season progresses that makes me proudest.”

Kokoska also won the quadrathon event, ranking him as the tournament’s best overall speaker. To qualify for quadrathon, a speaker must compete in four or more events.

“Another staggering performance from the whole team,” says Heron. “The debaters especially impressed me with their unified ability to close out not only the final rounds, but also the semi-finals. They showed great coaching, style, and skill that extended throughout all levels of experience on the team. As far as individual events are concerned, Mark once again showed his incredible diversity as a speaker. I’m so proud to share an event with him. I was particularly proud of how well the duo performed in the face of some stiff competition. I feel like I’m learning more with every outing and growing closer to the whole team.”

Borland, a government and law major, took first place in extemporaneous speech and was a semi-finalist in impromptu speech. Dato, a Marquis Scholar and double major in history and government & law, took first in debate and was a third-place speaker in the same event. He was a semi-finalist in impromptu speech and competed in poetry reading.

“I particularly enjoyed competing at NYU this year because I got to work with people whom I have not yet spent much time with,” says Dato. “Also, I was very impressed with our speech squad, especially our limited-prep team. Putting three Lafayette names into the final extemporaneous [speech] round and four into the impromptu [speech] semi-finals deserves a lot of praise.”

Other competitors included Marquis Scholar and law & ethics major Colby Block ’06 (Boca Raton, Fl.), who placed second and was a fifth-place speaker in Lincoln-Douglas debate and competed in impromptu speech; Brad Hock ’09 (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), who was a semi-finalist in impromptu speech and competed in extemporaneous speech and rhetorical criticism; Ng’ang’a Muchiri ’09 (Nairobi, Kenya), who took sixth in extemporaneous speech and competed in impromptu and informative speech; history major Bill O’Brien ’07 (Elmont, N.Y.), who took sixth in rhetorical criticism and competed in after-dinner speaking; and Trustee Scholar Beth Wehler ’09 (Gettysburg, Pa.), who was a semi-finalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate and competed in extemporaneous speech and poetry reading.

“As a team, we did exceedingly well,” says O’Brien. “I am proud of all my teammates and look forward to continually bonding with them throughout the year.”

Lafayette debaters closed out the semi-final and final rounds of Lincoln-Douglas debate, which means that no competitors from other schools took top debate spots in the tournament.

“The Lafayette debate team dominated the competition,” says Wehler. “This goes to show that our debate team has much in store for the rest of the year. Additionally, the speech team showed dramatic success. Overall, I’m very proud to be a member of this team, and I look forward to future achievements.”

Scott Placke, director of forensics, John Boyer, debate coach, and philosophy and government & law graduate Erik Heins ’05 accompanied the team to New York.

“I’m very proud of how the team performed this weekend,” says Boyer. “The debaters rebounded well and demonstrated again why Lafayette debate is a powerhouse on the eastern seaboard. Mark Kokoska deserves special accolades for his amazing performance. He dominated the speech competition for the first time this year and continued a great semester of debating.”

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

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 is a staff member of 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.

Muchiri writes for The Lafayette.

Forensics Society’s next competition will be hosted by Ohio State University Dec. 2-4.

Prior tournament reports

Categorized in: Academic News