North Central College forensics team makes history at national competitions

Apr 22, 2021

North Central College forensics, which has had a program on campus since the College opened in 1861, was able to compete virtually at four different national competitions at the conclusion of the 2020-2021 season. "We definitely had to organize and juggle schedules, but we made it work!  North Central Forensics competes against other schools from across the nation no matter the size," said John Stanley, associate professor of communication and director of forensics.

Notable among their achievements this season, competing virtually instead of in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was that the team featured five students who had never competed in forensics prior to coming to North Central--Kaitlyn Colvin, Luke Kwiatkowski, Sarah Runchey, Gaby Medrano, and Angel Tovar.

The following is an overview of the team's success at those national tournaments.

Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament

First, in North Central's 97th year as a member of the honorary forensics fraternity, Pi Kappa Delta, the College had nine students compete at the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament held March 18-21. There were 79 teams from across the entire country and 1342 individual event entries. "We worked incredibly hard this season under the difficult constraints of online competition, but that didn’t slow down our students," Stanley said.

The team placed ninth overall in combined team sweepstakes (combining individual events and debate) and seventh overall in individual events team sweeps.

  • Jessica Wycha '21 won a national championship (first place in the entire tournament out of 125 students) in extemporaneous speaking, took second place in interviewing (out of 129 students in the event), was a semifinalist (top 12) in after dinner speaking (also known as speech to entertain) and prose interpretation, and a quarterfinalist (top 24) in persuasive speaking.  She was also awarded sixth place in individual sweeps, an award given to the top 10 point-earning competitors in the entire tournament.
  • Diego Mateo '23 took second place in prose interpretation (out of 77 in the event), was a semifinalist in dramatic interpretation, and a quarterfinalist in program of oral interpretation and poetry interpretation.
  • Amy Ayyad '22 was a semifinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Kylie Bechtold '23 was a quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking.
  • Luke Kwiatkowski '23 was a quarterfinalist in after dinner speaking.
  • Genco Akacik '21 and Sarah Runchey '22 were semifinalists in parliamentary debate (one of the top four duos in the competition out of 41 teams).
  • Also in attendance were Kaitlyn Colvin '24 and Tabish Imran '23.

National Speech Championship

Second, the team attended the fourth annual National Speech Championship, an individual events-only tournament, on March 19-21. For this competition, each team can bring only two students in each event. North Central placed ninth at this competition as well with seven students in attendance.

  • Wycha won a national championship--making two national titles in the same event on the same day at two different national tournaments--in extemporaneous speaking, was a semifinalist (top 12) in after dinner speaking and persuasive speaking, and a quarterfinalist in prose interpretation and dramatic interpretation.
  • Colvin was a quarterfinalist in informative speaking and persuasive speaking.
  • Imran was a quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Mateo was a semifinalist in poetry interpretation and a quarterfinalist in program of oral interpretation.
  • Angel Tovar '23 was a quarterfinalist in dramatic interpretation and after dinner speaking.
  • Also in attendance were Kylie Bechtold and Luke Kwiatkowski.

American Forensic Association National Speech Tournament

Third, the team attended the American Forensic Association National Speech Tournament (AFA-NST) on April 3-5, sending two students.

  • Wycha was chosen as an All-American by the AFA-NST. This award is given to a select group of students across the country who have not only success in forensics, but who have also achieved outstanding academic performance and remarkable service. Wycha was also a national quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Mateo was a national quarterfinalst in poetry interpretation and dramatic interpretation.

National Forensic Association Tournament

Finally, the team competed at the 50th National Forensic Association (NFA) national tournament on April 16-19 and placed ninth as a team in President’s Division II.

  • Wycha was a national octafinalist (top 48 in the country) in persuasive speaking, and a national semifinalist (top 12) in after dinner speaking.
  • Mateo was a national octafinalist in poetry interpretation.
  • Also in attendance contributing to the team’s placement were Kylie Bechtold, Kaitlyn Colvin, Tabish Imran, Luke Kwiatkowski, Gaby Medrano '23, Kendall Schlegel '23, and Angel Tovar.

To find out more about North Central College forensics and the events they participate in, contact John Stanley.