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ASU speech team sweeps national tournament

group photo of ASU students

Back row from left: ASU Forensics Team members James Qian and Paxton Norwood Attridge. Front row from left: Frankie Marchi, Abbey Toye, Annie Mazzarella and Ben Steele.

February 01, 2016

On Jan. 14-15, six Arizona State University Forensics (speech) Team students competed on the University of Texas-Austin campus at the 17th annual "Hell Froze Over" Tournament and brought home top-place awards.

ASU's team received Overall Team sweepstakes awards, taking third place out of 42 schools competing that Saturday and third place out of 38 schools competing on Sunday. The team finished in third place for combined results. 

The tournament was hosted by the University of Texas at Austin and Bradley University and is one of the largest tournaments in the nation.

“The 'Hell Froze Over' tournament is one of two regular-season national tournaments that is attended by the top speech programs from around the country. It is seen as the last major tournament before teams compete at the AFA and NFA national tournaments in April,” said Forensics Team director Adam Symonds.

Speech tournaments are typically two tournaments in one weekend so the placement and awards are determined for each day separately, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Each tournament at “Hell Froze Over” offered all 11 AFA-NIET events. The events are divided into three categories: Impromptu and Extemporaneous Speaking (limited preparation events), Persuasive, Informative, Communication Analysis and After Dinner Speaking (public platform addresses), and Poetry, Prose, Dramatic, Duo and Programmed Oral Interpretation (interpretive events).

The Arizona State speech team consisted of six students, three of which are graduating seniors and have been on the Forensics Team for all four years while attending ASU. James Qian is a computer information systems major, Paxton Attridge is an English lterature major, and Frankie Marchi is a communication major.

The highlight of both tournaments was the outstanding performance by all three seniors on the team in the individual awards categories.

James Qian
Tournament Champion — 1st in Individual Sweepstakes, Saturday (out of over 200 students)
2nd place in Individual Sweeps, Sunday
Tournament Champion - 1st in Individual Sweeps combined
Extemporaneous Speaking: 1st place (out of 71 students), Saturday; 1st place (out of 77 students), Sunday
Impromptu Speaking: 4th place, Saturday; 1st place (out of 98 students), Sunday 
Communication Analysis: 4th place, Saturday; 4th place, Sunday
After Dinner Speaking: 5th place, Saturday

Paxton Attridge
Impromptu Speaking: Tournament Champion — 1st place (out of 92 students), Saturday; Semifinals (7th-12th place), Sunday
After Dinner Speaking: 4th place, Sunday
Duo Interpretation (with Frankie Marchi): Semifinals, Saturday; Semifinals, Sunday

​Frankie Marchi
Poetry Interpretation: Semifinals, Saturday
Duo Interpretation (with Paxton Attridge): Semifinals (7th-12th place), Saturday; Semifinals, Sunday​

​The speech team previously competed in two tournaments this past fall with team members placing in the top ranks at both, Bradley University’s 68th annual LE Norton Memorial Tournament and the Ohio State Frolic.

The LE Norton Memorial at Bradley University was held on Nov. 7-8 in Peoria, Illinois. ASU senior James Qian placed third in Varsity Impromptu Speaking and fourth in Varsity Extemporaneous Speaking. Junior Kohi Gill placed sixth in Varsity Extemporaneous Speaking.

At the Ohio State Frolic on Dec. 4-5 in Columbus, Ohio, senior Frankie Marchi took second place in Poetry Interpretation and fourth place in Program Oral Interpretation.

This year’s speech team is positioned for championship performances at the American Forensics Association and the National Forensics Association national tournaments being held in April and surpass last year’s success at both.

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