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Lafayette wins its 2nd consecutive Pa. State Championship!

While the National Forensic Association’s championship tournament won’t be starting tomorrow, Lafayette’s students are taking the opportunity to perform for two different online showcases!  Watch this space for a round-up of the accolades from those performances.  Until then, here is a retrospective on our 2020 PFA State Championship and a preview of those digital competitions!  Enjoy!

Forensics Society Dominates State Championship

212 Awards! Fall 2019 in Review

The 2019-2020 academic year has seen Lafayette Forensics Society grow to become the biggest team in program history.  Over 30 students have competed in Individual Events and Debate!  The team has grown to the point where we decided to break new ground in college forensics by hiring two remote coaches to work with some of our students.  Rahul Guha (former competitor and coach for Bowling Green, Miami (OH), and Beavercreek (OH) HS) and Decker O’Donnell (former competitor and coach for Lewis and Clark) have been brought on to help coach individual events via Skype and other platforms.  The team is big AND talented.  This size, talent, and expanded coaching was the foundation for a record-breaking semester for Lafayette Forensics.

57 first place finishes;
4 individual sweepstakes championships;
and 212 total awards!

For a complete rundown of the tournament results at the 14 tournaments we attended, click on the tournament name below.  Follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook for live updates during the spring semester!

OCHOIE Invitational at Lafayette College

Carolyn Keefe Memorial Tournament at West Chester University

SNAFU at West Chester University

Northern Virginia Community College

Pennsylvania State University

Jack Lynch Invitational at St. Anselm College

The Norton Invitational at Bradley University

The Charity Ball at Dutchess Community College

McKendree University

Ed Leonard Memorial Tournament at Seton Hall University

SNAFU at Seton Hall University

Frolic Some More at Otterbein University

Off-Broadway Swing at Nassau Community College

Off-Broadway Swing at Hofstra University


PHILADELPHIA, PA – Saeed Malami (’20), has won the Interstate Oratorical Association’s (IOA) 145th annual championship tournament.

IOA is the longest running public speaking competition in North America. The first tournament was first held in 1874 in Galesburg, IL and has been held without interruption every year since. Two students are selected by each state to participate. In 2019, the representatives from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were both students from Lafayette College (Saeed Malami and first-year Lia Charles). They attended the tournament this past weekend (April 27-28). Coincidentally, the tournament was held this year in Philadelphia, PA.

Against the best competitors from each state, Saeed finished in the top 12 that advanced to a semi-final round. He advanced to the finals, which was held in the Independence Visitor Center overlooking the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. In the final round, Saeed gave a stunning performance and the judges crowned Saeed Malami as the 145th Interstate Oratorical Association’s national champion.

Attending this prestigious competition is an honor. Lafayette has a long history of representing Pennsylvania at this tournament. We have placed students in the semi-final round, but Saeed is Lafayette’s first finalist and is our first champion (and only the second from Pennsylvania). Past IOA competitors include William Jennings Bryan, Senator Robert LaFollette, and Senator George McGovern. Saeed’s championship broke barriers in the forensics community. He is the first Nigerian and is likely the first non-US citizen to win the competition. As his coach, I’ve seen firsthand the deep dedication he has given to this performance. His speech on child slavery within the chocolate industry has been a passion project rooted in academics and a personal connection to the topic as a West African.

Congratulations, Saeed!

Lafayette Finishes Strong at NFA Nationals

SANTA ANA, CA – Lafayette Forensics travelled to sunny Santa Ana, California for this year’s National Forensics Association’s Championship Tournament.  For one week, the members of the team left the dreary spring weather behind for the California sunshine.  Over 80 schools competed in the tournament that completes the team national championship calendar.  After Novice Nationals, Pi Kappa Delta, and the National Speech Championships, the squad was read for one last chance to perform.  Lafayette competed and won awards in both Speech and Debate, one of the few schools to do so.  The tournament was highlighted by Luisa Gunn’s extraordinary performance in debate that placed her tied for 5th in the nation and Saeed Malami finished tied for 13th in Persuasion and DI!  Luisa’s performance, along with her teammates, was enough to earn Lafayette 6th place in Debate sweepstakes, a major improvement over last year’s 10th place finish.  It was an excellent tournament and several finishes, like Kelly Mwaamba’s 4th place finish in Novice Poetry, are sign of great things to come for Lafayette Forensics!

Luisa Gunn – Quarterfinalist in LD Debate
Saeed Malami – Quarterfinalist in Persuasion, Quarterfinalist in Dramatic Interpretation
Ansh Mishra – Triple Octofinalist in LD Debate
Kelly Mwaamba – 4th place in Novice Poetry

6th place in Debate Team Sweepstakes

Lafayette finishes 14th at the National Speech Championship

OAKLAND, MI – Lafayette College attended the third ever National Speech Championship at Oakland University in Michigan.  Director Scott Placke traveled to this tournament with four students.  Eleanor Griffiths, Scott Kamen, Saeed Malami, and Kelly Mwaamba competed in 13 events across all three genres.  The team finished in 14th place, its highest ever finish at this prestigious tournament.  The individual results were highlighted by Saeed Malami’s success in Persuasion and Dramatic Interpretation.  Saeed was a national finalist in BOTH events, taking 4th place in each of the two final rounds.  Scott Kamen and Kelly Mwaamba also advanced to the elimination rounds.  These strong performances propelled the small squad into the top 15 in the nation!

Scott Kamen – Quarterfinalist in Persuasion and Communication Analysis
Saeed Malami – 4th Place in Persuasion, 4th Place in Dramatic Interpretation, Quarterfinalist in Dramatic Duo
Kelly Mwaamba – Quarterfinalist in Dramatic Duo, Quarterfinalist in Dramatic Interpretation

Team Sweepstakes – 14th place

Ansh Mishra Excels at Pi Kappa Delta Nationals

HEMPSTEAD, NY – Over the second half of spring break in March, Lafayette College attended the Pi Kappa Delta Biennial Convention and Tournament hosted by Hofstra University.  Coach John Boyer and alum James Hilbert coached Ansh Mishra and Anastasiia Shakhurina  in debate, limited preparation, and interpretation events.  The tournament is one of the largest and oldest national tournaments in the nation!  After competing over four grueling days, Ansh received a superior award in Extemporaneous speaking.  This means he was in the top 10 percent of the event nationwide.  He also received an Excellent award (top 30%) in Impromptu speaking.  Anastasiia just missed the cut off in Prose interpretation.

Ansh Mishra – Superior in Extemp (9th out of 141 competitors) and Excellence in Impromptu (24th out of 182 competitors)

Novice Nationals Results!

BOWLING GREEN, OH – In March five of our novices traveled to Bowling Green State University in Ohio for the Novice National tournament. Lafayette has a long history of success and even novice national championships and that success continued in 2019.  Lauren Stango is the 2019 Novice National Champion  in Prose Interpretation!  We are so proud of the novices and expect big things from them in the future.  The tournament is excellent preparation for the rest of the national tournament calendar and sets the students up for success and education as their first year comes to a close.

Lauren Stango – 1st place Prose, 3rd place Impromptu Sales, 4th place Dramatic Interpretation
Kelly Mwaamba – 2nd place Poetry Interpretation, 5th place Impromptu Sales, 5th place Slam Poetry, 6th place Dramatic Interpretation
Lia Charles – 4th place Rhetorical Criticism, 4th place Slam Poetry, 5th place Persuasion

Team Sweepstakes – 4th place


Northern Tier Debate Conference Champs!

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, OH – The Northern Tier Debate Conference concluded in March at John Carroll University.  The conference is six tournaments long and is also hosted by Lafayette, Clarion University, St. Anselm College, Ithaca College, and Hillsdale College over the course of the academic year.  The NTDC consists of schools from Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Hampshire.

Over the course of the six tournaments, results and points are tracked to create season-long awards.  Congratulations to all of the NTDC award winners (Lafayette students, in bold):

Top Open Division Debater
1st – Sarah Stevenson-Peck, Penn State
2nd – Zak Zinda, John Carroll
3rd – Anshuman Mishra, Lafayette

Top Open Division Speaker
1st – Zak Zinda, John Carroll
2nd – Pammy Boulas, Capital
3rd – Sarah Stevenson-Peck, Penn State

Top Novice Division Debater
1st – Yordanos Mengistu, Lafayette
2nd – Bohan Xu, Penn State
3rd – Nolan McClung, Capital

Top Novice Division Speaker
1st – Nolan McClung, Capital
2nd – Stephanie Mooney, Ithaca
3rd – Yordanos Mengistu, Lafayette

NTDC Team Sweepstakes
1st – Lafayette College (Anshuman Mishra, Luisa Gunn, Yordanos Mengistu)
2nd – Pennsylvania State University (Sarah Stevenson-Peck, Elisa Vogel, Bohan Xu)
3rd – Central Michigan University (Gabrielle Pruitt, Bainbridge Scully, Gabe Butzke)

Congratulations to all of the award winners and especially Anshuman Mishra and Yordanos Mengistu for their individual awards.  The entire debate team contributed to our individual and team successes.  Luisa Gunn was instrumental as Lafayette’s third point scorer in the team sweepstakes race.  Chris Mayer, Lia Charles, Hank Scheffler and Emily Song all contributed to our success!


EASTON, PA – In February, Lafayette Forensics Society hosted the Pennsylvania Forensics Association’s (PFA) State Championship. After months of preparation, the team reached its goal and won the state championship for the first time in 11 years and only the second time ever. Individually, SIX different students were named state champions and LFS was represented in the finals of 11 out of 13 events. 

The state tournament is also responsible for selecting two members from the state of Pennsylvania to represent the state at the Interstate Oratorical Association’s (IOA) annual tournament.  The IOA tournament is the longest running public speaking competition in the nation and is limited to only two students per state.  Lafayette Forensics Society has the honor of representing the state with not just one, but TWO students.  State champion in Persuasion, Lia Charles, and 2nd place finisher Saeed Malami earned the right to compete at this prestigious and exclusive competition. 

Anshuman Mishra was even elected to serve as one of the student representatives to PFA for the coming academic year. Every team member can be proud of the work they put in this weekend!

State Champions:
PERSUASION – Lia Charles
DUO INTERPRETATION – Saeed Malami and Kelly Mwaamba

Full Results:
Saeed Malami 1st DUO, 2nd DI, 2nd PER, and 3rd POI
Scott Kamen – 1st CRIT, 3rd Duo, 3rd INFO, 4th PROSE, and 5th PER
Lauren Stango – 1st DI, 3rd DUO, and 3rd PROSE
Kelly Mwaamba – 1st DUO, 3rd DI, and 4th POE
Lia Charles – 1st PER, 3rd CRIT, and 6th EXTEMP
Luisa Gunn – 1st LD, 3rd PER
Anastasiia Shakhurina – 5th PROSE and 6th DI
Eleanor Griffiths –  6th ADS
Jenny Chen – 6th POE
Kaitlin McNamara – 6th POI
ordanos Mengistu – 2nd LD

Team Sweepstakes – Champions

Individual Accomplishments:
Individual Sweepstakes/Quadrathon: Saeed Malami 3rd Place; Scott Kamen 5th Place
PA State Rep for 2019-2020: Ansh Mishra
Interstate Oratory Participants: Lia Charles and Saeed Malami

The team is ecstatic about how States turned out and is looking forward to the remainder of the semester!

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