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April 16, 2013

Cassidy Reller ’16 Takes National Novice Championship in Forensics

Cassidy Reller ’16, who won the novice national championship in extemporaneous speaking, prepares for the national championship during the annual Forensics performance night.

Cassidy Reller ’16, who won the novice national championship in extemporaneous speaking, prepares for the national championship during the annual Forensics performance night.

Does John Boehner have control over the GOP House Caucus? Hard to say, but Cassidy Reller ’16 (Fremont, Neb.) has pretty good odds of convincing you that the caucus is fracturing along ideological lines under Boehner’s watch.

Reller argued that point of view last month during the Novice National Intercollegiate Forensics Tournament at Berry College in Rome, Ga., on his way to earning the title of novice national champion in extemporaneous speaking.

“It feels really great to win,” says Reller. “It’s nice to be recognized as one of the best first-year competitors in my event.”

The competition is open to students in their first year of intercollegiate forensics competition and follows the same guidelines as the American Forensic Association. Reller also spoke on topics relating to Brazil’s economy in relation in agriculture, the Fed’s quantitative easing program, and recent unemployment rates.

Sharon Chen ’15, who won the state championship in rhetorical criticism, presents her speech during the annual forensics performance night.

Sharon Chen ’15, who won the state championship in rhetorical criticism, presents her speech during the annual forensics performance night.

He plans to double major in government law and philosophy, and says his experience on the forensics team will be beneficial as he works toward a career in law.

“Forensics allows me to exercise rhetorical logic skills. I also find competing in forensics a lot of fun,” he says.

Reller is one of about 20 members of Lafayette Forensics Society, which has a rigorous competition schedule, traveling to nearly two dozen tournaments a year.  The team is competing this week (April 16-23) at the National Forensics Association tournament at Marshall University, followed by the Interstate Oratorical Association event at LSU-Shreveport at the end of April.

The College has excelled on the national level. In 2009, the team was the national champion in Division III speech, and in 2010, the team took second place in both the debate and Division III speech portions of the national tournament. Ryan Raesly ’15 (Nazareth, Pa.), a government and law major, won the novice national championship in extemporaneous speaking last year.

Lafayette has a young team this year, with a lot of first-year and sophomore students. “I am very proud of our new members,” says Scott Placke, director of forensics. “They work very hard and have great spirit. I’m expecting a lot of fantastic things from them in the future.”

State champion Ryan Raesly ’15 answers an impromptu question.

State champion Ryan Raesly ’15 answers an impromptu question.

The team has had good success this year. Both the speech and debate teams won first place at the St. Anselm’s “Jack Lynch” Tournament in November, and had several first-place trophies, including Zoe Staum ’14 (Needham, Mass.) in Lincoln Douglas debate. In February, three students won state titles at the Pennsylvania Forensic Association’s Championship Tournament: Sharon Chen ’15 (Tenafly, N.J.) in rhetorical criticism, Raesly in extemporaneous speaking, and Luke Wasacz ’16 in prose interpretation.

Students on Lafayette’s team receive a lot of one-on-one attention and guidance from coaches Placke, assistant director John Boyer, and forensics coach Kimberlee Runnion.

This year, emphasis is on educating students to prepare them for future years, while still maintaining a busy competition schedule.

“The coaches and I feel it is possible for us to have several students do well and make it to national elimination rounds,” Placke says. “Forensics tournaments are a brain workout; our students are especially up to that task.”

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