ASU speech team repeat national champs

ASU Forensics team

The Arizona State University Forensics (speech) team continued a remarkable awards season, repeating their National Championship in Division II of the President’s Sweepstakes at the National Forensics Association National Tournament.

The tournament was hosted April 16-20 at Ohio University. The National Forensics Association is one of the largest organizations for college speech in the country.

The tournament hosted over 75 schools for competition by more than 800 students in 11 public speaking events.

These events are divided into three categories:

• limited preparation events (Impromptu and Extemporaneous Speaking)
• public platform addresses (Persuasive, Informative, Rhetorical Criticism and After Dinner Speaking)
• interpretive events (Poetry, Prose, Dramatic and Duo)

The Arizona State team competing at the NFA tournament consisted of juniors Paxton Attridge, Frankie Marchi and James Qian, and freshman Abigail Toye.

The performances by the team were so strong that they more than doubled the score of the second place team in the division – tallying 160 points, compared to the University of Northern Iowa’s 76.

“Without contributions from every member of our team, this would not have been possible," said John Grimm, Forensics team coach. "The focus they’ve placed is on not only solid, rigorous argumentation, but also engaging the audience with the heart they put into each performance.”

“We’ve been told many times about the legacy of ASU Speech and have been frequently recognized by fellow competitors for ASU Speech’s alumni, but it feels like the competition will be recognizing the current team of ASU Speech from now on,” Marchi said.

In order to amass so many points with so few students, the team needed a number of standout performances. Each of the events the team entered had more than 115 entries, with some reaching nearly 200 competitors.

Leading the way, Qian finished in the top 5 places of two separate events, while carrying a third to semifinals – a top 12 finish – with a fourth event in quarterfinals (top 24). His 3rd place award in Extemporaneous Speaking and 5th place in Impromptu Speaking sent Qian to the 11th place overall individual speaker at the tournament.

“On the heels of winning a National Title in Impromptu Speaking just two weekends ago, Jimmy actually upped his game by carrying even more events into elimination rounds this weekend,” said Adam Symonds, director of Forensics. “To be recognized as the 11th overall speaker is, in many ways, even more difficult than winning a national championship in a single event. The dedication to a single event must be duplicated across several events to even be competitive.”

Attridge contributed a semifinals appearance in Impromptu Speaking and quarterfinals results in both Extemporaneous Speaking and Rhetorical Criticism.

“From a coach's perspective, Paxton is really the team leader. He’s in the squad room practically every time I am there,” said Symonds. “He’s always pushing the other students to practice more events and offers feedback. When someone as selfless as Paxton has a performance like this, it makes you really, really proud to be a coach.”

Marchi was a first-time elimination round participant – earning distinction with his Poetry performance – and carried the event all the way to the semifinals, unseating previous national champions along the way to a top 12 finish.

“There was a lot of buzz about Frankie’s poetry this weekend. He’s primed for a huge senior year,” Symonds said.