WKU Forensics wins NFA Individual Events Team Championship


Provided by Ganer Newman

Pictured (back row, left to right): Imanii Giles, Tanya Prabhakar, Hannah Jones, Tani Washington, Kelly Lingen, Kellin Robinson, Christian Butterfield, Jonah Johnson, Samantha Sallee, Rachael Akinbayo, Joseph Eberle, Danielle Williams, Dakota Perry, Jaleon Brown, Collin Tuerk, Mauricio Patino. (Front Row, Left to Right) Antonina Clementi, Tess Welch, Imam Brula, Miles Morton, Andre Swai, Noah Gordon, Reginald Jefferson, Caitlyn Woitena, Reese Johnson, Rashon Leday.

Kennedy Gayheart, News reporter

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story contained errors regarding event results. The Herald regrets the error.

WKU Forensics won its first place national title at this year’s National Forensics Association competition. 

Competing at Illinois State University from April 14-18, the team participated in the national competition and had 83 entries, one of the biggest teams to compete. 

For “After Dinner Speaking,” Reese Johnson placed fifth. For “Drama Interpretation,” Paige Albright placed first. For “Duo Interpretation,” Rashon Leday and Reggie Jefferson placed first place, Kelly Lingen and Reese Johnson placed third, Jonah Johnson and Paige Allbright placed fifth and Jonah Johnson and Reese Jonson placed sixth.

For “Extemporaneous Speaking” Tess Welch placed sixth. For “Informative Speaking” Tani Washington placed first and Paige Allbright placed fourth. For “Impromptu Speaking,” Christian Butterfield placed fourth and Tess Welch placed fifth. In “Lincoln Douglas Debate,” Tess Welch placed second. For “Poetry Interpretation” Reggie Johnson placed third and Rashon Leday placed fourth. For “Program Oral Interpretation,” Kellin Robinson placed fifth. For “Prose Interpretation,” Reshon Leday placed fourth. For “Rehorical Criticism”, Tani Washington placed first, Christian Butterfield was a quarterfinalist and Caitlyn Woitena placed sixth.

Ganer Newman, director of the WKU forensics team, took much pride in the organization and expressed how hard the students worked to get to this point in such a short amount of time. 

“It was kind of an unbelievable life affirming experience for me to see how [the students] managed to turn that over in such a short period of time by being so diligent and focused with their coaches,” Newman said. 

Newman also praised the coaching staff for being a big contribution to the success of the team. 

“That’s the thing about a team, you don’t have a team that is successful without people that know what they’re doing to help and organize success,” Newman said. “This coaching staff, they are some of the most gifted educators I’ve ever interacted with in my entire life.”

The WKU forensics team had 17 of their 83 entries make it through four rounds of highly competitive judging to the national final rounds. There, WKU competed against the University of Texas at Austin and ultimately came out on top. 

After not competing at an in-person debate since 2020 due to COVID-19, the team had to find ways to transition from virtual speaking to in-person speaking. 

“You start from zero, all you’ve done is talked on a camera on the computer, and now you’re supposed to speak, if you make it to the national final round, in front of 300 people,” Newman explained. 

According to the WKU forensics website, their team is the “oldest and most successful program in the history of Western Kentucky University”.

Newman explained that forensics is bigger than merely winning titles – it’s about “being a part of something greater than yourself.”

After all the success, Newman said the future is “incredibly bright for the organization.”

News Reporter Kennedy Gayheart can be reached at [email protected]