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L&C’s Jacob Wisda top overall student in Pacific Northwest; team wins overall honor

February 02, 2016

  • Jacob Wisda

Pacific University

Lewis & Clark’s Jacob Wisda (’18) won the 2015-16 Coaches’ Commemorative Award, recognizing him as the top overall student in the Northwest Forensics Conference. He clinched the award at the Scheller Invitational tournament, held January 29-31 at Pacific University.

The Northwest Forensics Conference gives awards based upon performance at three “designated” tournaments throughout the season. Lewis & Clark hosted one such event in October and Linfield College held another in November. The competition at Pacific was the final event in this year’s rotation. 596 students from 58 schools, mostly from the Pacific Northwest, competed across the three tournaments.

Wisda’s performance at all three tournaments was outstanding. He entered fifteen total individual events, advancing to finals in twelve of them, placing among the top three in ten of them and winning five total championships. Two of the championships were won at Pacific as Wisda won in both After-Dinner Speaking and Informative Speaking. In addition, Wisda, along with partner Ben Soleim (’17) advanced to semifinals in Worlds style debate at all three competition and placed in finals at two.

This is Wisda’s third major honor of the season. He won the top overall speaker at the San Francisco State University tournament in September and also received the prestigious Mahaffey award as the best overall individual events competitor at Linfield in November.

Director of Forensics Joe Gantt said of Wisda’s performance, “I could not be prouder of Jacob and what he has achieved this season, and the Coaches’ Commemorative Award is completely deserved. To finish first out of nearly 600 students is an incredible accomplishment, only magnified by the fact that Jacob is a sophomore in his first year of competition at Lewis & Clark.”

The entire forensics program at Lewis & Clark also received a season-long honor from the NFC, earning the Gold Medal Program award for yearlong success in both speaking events and debate. It, too, was calculated from performances from the three designated tournaments. It is L&C’s first Gold Medal finish since 2009.

In order to earn a Gold placing, programs must excel at both speech and debate, and Lewis & Clark had standout competitors in both. In addition to Wisda, individual events competitors Soleim, Claire Crossman (’17), Decker O’Donnell (’18) and Zoe Pittman (’17) combined for fourteen more top three finishes.

In parliamentary debate, three teams earned points at all three tournaments. The team of Hannah Mathieson (’17) and Sarah McDonagh (’18) shared the Linfield championship with the team of Carlton Bone (’18) and William Woods (’19) in November, and both teams advanced to elimination rounds at the other two designated tournaments along with the team of Taylor Knudson (’18) and Mikayla Parsons (’18).

Gantt added of the team’s recognition, “This was a team goal this year, and I am so proud of every member of the team that contributed to reaching that goal. It is difficult to be successful in both speech and debate, but due to the hard work of our students and the skill of our entire coaching staff, we have been able to see both sides of the program excel this season.”

Both the speakers and debaters will next travel February 5-7 for the Winter at the Beach Invitational to be held at California State University, Long Beach.