One-two punch

The forensics team stops for a quick group photo before boarding the bus bound for the NFA nationals.

April 20, 2010

Two weeks after claiming first-place at the American Forensic Association Tournament, the Bradley forensics team placed second in another national tournament this weekend. 

Finishing with a total score of 525 points, Bradley finished runner-up to Western Kentucky  at the National Forensics Association Tournament at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. The performance is another national highlight in Bradley’s long list of speech-team successes.

“A lot of our success can be attributed to having an administration that realizes how important forensics are and have been kind enough to provide us with the support we need,” Director of Forensics Dan Smith said. “This program has been successful for so long that we don’t need to do a lot of justifying, which is not the case at a lot of schools.”

Since 1980, the Bradley Speech Team has won 36 national team forensic championships. This record of success is unmatched by any other forensic or academic program in history.

Bradley was led by senior Patrick Campbell, who claimed his first individual national title, finishing first in the persuasive speaking contest.

“It was pretty nice to be able to peak during my senior year,” said Campbell, a four-year member of the forensics team. “Obviously, your goal at these events is always to score as many points as you can for your team. But within that goal, if you come away as the top participant in your category, why the heck not? It’s a pretty great honor to win an individual title.”

Apart from Campbell’s individual performance, Smith said he was especially pleased with the maturity shown by the team’s underclassmen.

“Our freshman class was the talk of the tournament,” he said. “Getting them in a situation like that just speeds up the whole process. They don’t understand what a national tournament is like until they have been there, but after they are able to experience one, they are more likely to build on that and now they have a great head start.”

Among the high underclassmen finishers was Cecil Blutcher, who took third in prose interpretation and was a national quarterfinalist in after-dinner speaking and poetry interpretation. Blutcher also claimed national semifinalist honors in the duo interpretation event alongside fellow freshman Jonathan Spence.

Spence claimed sixth in the nation in poetry interpretation and was a semifinalist in dramatic interpretation.

“I have been so impressed by what [our underclassmen] have been able to accomplish this year,” Campbell said. “It shows that we are not necessarily a senior-led team.  There is really a lot coming up in the next few years for our school to be proud of and for the nation to really enjoy.”

Campbell will continue his season this weekend in Norman, Okla., where he has qualified to represent Illinois in the Interstate Oratorical Contest, the oldest public speaking contest in the nation.

With the second-place finish, Bradley defeated a number of nationally recognizable universities such as Northwestern (sixth), Texas (fifth) and Ohio (fourth). Additionally, three of the top-10 finishing teams contain Bradley alumni or former forensics directors as members of their coaching staffs.