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Lafayette placed third at the Pennsylvania Forensic Association’s annual state tournament held at Saint Joseph’s University this past weekend.

Marquis Scholar and law and philosophy major Colby Block ’06 (Boca Raton, Fla.) took first place in dramatic interpretation. She placed fifth in extemporaneous speech and also competed in informative speech and poetry reading.

Marquis Scholar Amy Solomito ’09 (Coopersburg, Pa.) was one of two competitors chosen to represent Pennsylvania at the Interstate Oratorical Association’s competition, which will be held April 21-22 at University of West Florida. This is the third consecutive year that a Lafayette student has been selected for the prestigious honor. Solomito’s argument in support of the over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception earned second place in persuasive speech, and her analysis of the UNICEF anti-war ad airing in Europe depicting the destruction of a Smurf village by an air strike took third in rhetorical criticism. She also competed in dramatic duo with Marquis Scholar Christian Dato ’07 (Poway, Calif.) and with Bill O’Brien ’07 (Elmont, N.Y.).

“This weekend, the team came together, and I don’t think any of this would have been possible without excellent coaching and the absolutely amazing support of the varsity members,” she says. “I am very lucky to be a part of such a supportive team.”

In addition to competing with Solomito in dramatic duo, Dato took second in impromptu speech, was a semi-finalist in Lincoln-Douglas debate, and competed in persuasive speech and prose reading.

“We had some very real successes that team members can be proud of,” says the double major in history and government & law. “I like that our state is so competitive – it says a lot about how dedicated our local community is to such an amazing activity.”

O’Brien, a history major who also competed with Solomito in dramatic duo, took fifth place in persuasive speech with an argument in support of surveillance cameras in public transportation areas and fifth place in after-dinner speaking with his discussion of problems and solutions of plagiarism. He competed in rhetorical criticism with a discussion of racial implications of the cartoon character Memín Pinguín in Mexico and in informative speech with his discussion of the advantages, disadvantages, and implications of Rapex, a new female condom designed to immobilize rapists.

Government and law major Joe Borland ’06 (Wilkes Barre, Pa.) placed third in impromptu speech and fifth in extemporaneous speech. His final-round extemporaneous question was “What effect will Denmark’s conference on religious dialogue have on relations with Muslim countries?” The final-round impromptu quotation for all competitors was “Bring me your torch. The tribe has spoken,” by “Survivor”host Jeff Probst.

Marquis Scholar Rachel Heron ’09 (Downingtown, Pa.) took third in after-dinner speaking. She also competed in dramatic duo with Marquis Scholar Mark Kokoska ’08 (Bloomsburg, Pa.) and with Trustee Scholar Beth Wehler ’09 (Gettysburg, Pa.). She also competed in poetry and prose reading.

“My thanks go to the coaches for giving me the chance to participate and for helping me to understand how the circuit works,” says Heron. “I realized again this weekend how proud I am of my teammates as people first and competitors second. I really like the feeling of delivering something that I’ve written myself to the audience, although that doesn’t tarnish my love for interpretive pieces.”

Kokoska, a computer science major, placed fourth in extemporaneous speech by answering the question “Will Arroyo’s regime survive accusations that her government knew about potential landslide dangers almost a year ago?” In addition to his event with Heron, he competed in after-dinner speaking, impromptu speech, and informative speech. He also was a semi-finalist in debate.

Other competitors included Wehler, after-dinner speaking, extemporaneous speech, and debate; Trustee Scholar Joe Dudek ’09 (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.), impromptu speech and debate; Ng’ang’a Muchiri ’09 (Nairobi, Kenya), dramatic interpretation, extemporaneous speech, and informative speech; and Kavinda Udugama ’09 (Kandy, Sri Lanka), persuasive speech.

“There was a moment when Colby [Block] took the time to point out just how many novices we had taken to states this year and how well we were doing taking that into account,” says Dudek. “There is no way to avoid seeing how much this team has developed this year.”

Scott Placke, director of forensics, John Boyer, debate coach, and forensics alumni Jennifer Rusak ’04, Jeremy Bennett ’05, and Devan Theiler ’04 accompanied the team.

Forensics Society will travel to Berry College in Rome, Ga., for the Novice National Tournament March 11-12.

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.

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.

Heron is a member of Newman Association, Landis Community Outreach Center’s Spanish Club for Kids, and College Democrats. She also writes for The Lafayette.

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

Wehler is a member of College Orchestra and College Democrats.

Udugama is a member of the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders and Tennis Club.

Solomito is a member of Crew Club.

Muchiri writes for The Lafayette.

Prior tournament reports

Categorized in: Academic News