WKU hosts state forensics tournament starting Friday

Emma Collins

On Feb. 19 and 20, the WKU Forensics team will be hosting and competing in the 43rd Annual Kentucky Forensic Association State Tournament.

The tournament, which will be held in Garrett Conference Center, will feature students from various universities and colleges across the state.

According to Ben Pyle, assistant director of forensics, the job of hosting the tournament rotates from campus to campus, and this year WKU was chosen.


Pyle said hosting involves “making sure that we have enough available rooms for all of the different debate and individual events rounds, ensuring we have food to feed all of our guests, and making sure that we have enough judges to judge all of our rounds.”

Ensuring there are enough judges to moderate the rounds is important, and judges come from across the state.

Jessica Furgerson, director of debate and the public address coach, said the list of judges includes WKU professors, the staff of WKU Forensics, coaches from other universities and members of the Bowling Green community.

The judges will adjudicate various competitions throughout the two-day event. While each competition will have its own unique set of judging criteria, certain aspects must be present in all presentations and speeches.

“It all sort of comes down to being thoughtful in your approach and using words wisely or in powerful ways to persuade or move your audience to some capacity,” Tyler Rife, graduate assistant coach, said.

WKU’s 38-member team spends months preparing for tournaments. Many of the students began preparing in August 2015.

“Every student on the team throughout the entire year is having sessions with coaches and is constantly trying to improve upon their slots following each tournament,” Rife said.

Members of the team will be competing in a variety of categories over the weekend with many students competing in multiple events.

According to Furgerson, all students competing in the debate portion of the tournament will participate in five preliminary rounds. The top eight teams will move on to elimination rounds.

“Elimination rounds work just like the March NCAA bracket,” Furgerson said. “The top team gets the lowest team, and whoever wins keeps going and whoever loses is eliminated from the tournament.”

Individual events, such as impromptu and individual speaking, have only two preliminary rounds in which all contestants participate. Contestants present before one judge who ranks the students on a scale of one to six with one being the best possible score.

After the preliminary rounds, the top six students advance to a final round where they will be judged by three judges.

Events are expected to run continuously on both Friday and Saturday, and guests who want to watch the competition can stop by the tournament at anytime.

“There’s events happening pretty much on an hourly basis after the start times, and so if [guests] were to show up anytime throughout the day, they would be able to catch an event that is happening,” Furgerson said.

The tournament, which is free for spectators, begins at about noon on Friday and about 9 a.m. on Saturday.

This tournament is the premiere tournament in the state, and the team is excited to be hosting it this year.

“We have done well at the tournament in many previous years, but to have it on our home campus should be pretty thrilling,” Rife said.