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NIU Forensics shines in state, national competitions

March 19, 2015
Forensics Ben and Steven-x

No debate about it: Steven Cyhaniuk and Ben Donovan were named
state champions in parliamentary debate.

There is no debating that it has been a stellar season for the NIU Forensics team.

From the 2015 Illinois Intercollegiate Forensics Association State Tournament held at NIU, to the Novice Nationals tournament held at Butler University, Huskies continue to earn top honors this March in formal speech and debate competitions.

“The coaching staff is delighted,” said Judy Santacaterina, director of individual events for NIU Forensics. “Our forensics founders, M. Jack Parker and Dorothy Bishop, were experts in debate and oratory. So carrying on that tradition is very special.”

NIU Forensics is a student organization devoted to a wide range of competitive and non-competitive speech activities. Formed in 1928, the group has a rich history of providing students with hands-on training in argumentation, advocacy, public speaking and performance.

NIU hosted this year’s state tournament, which brought hundreds of students representing 20 schools to DeKalb earlier this month.

Among the highlights:

  • The team of Ben Donovan and Steven Cyhaniuk was named state champion in parliamentary debate.
  • Julia Boyle was named the state champion in oratory, and will represent Illinois in the oldest speech contest in the nation, the Interstate Oratory Contest.
  • Jimmy Clark placed third and Steven Cyhaniuk placed fifth as individual speakers in parliamentary debate.
  • Sam Misigaro placed third in dramatic interpretation.

The NIU team placed second nationally at Novice Nationals. Team members include (left to right) Jess Johnson, Ryan Cunningham, Jose Crespo, Nick Jacobs and Lauren Hoppenrath.

The 2015 Novice Nationals, an introductory competitive event open to students in their first year of intercollegiate forensics competition, took place at Butler University from March 13 to 15.

Among the highlights:

  • The NIU novice team took second place in the nation.
  • The debate team of Jess Johnson and Dennis Muxlow was named National Novice Champion in parliamentary debate.
  • Lauren Hoppenrath took third place in the nation in prose speaking and was a semifinalist in impromptu sales.
Jess Johnson and Dennis Muxlow

Jess Johnson and Dennis Muxlow

Director of Forensics Lisa Roth said it was a successful season because each team member was highly motivated to create their events and develop their argumentation skills.

“I am extremely proud of the team and all of the hard work they put forth to accomplish their goals,” Roth said.

“These students come from colleges across the university and find common ground and camaraderie by working together as a team. These awards speak to the high caliber of students on the team, and the impact that speech and debate can have on individual students.”

by Jane Donahue