Knighton named top forensics competitor in Pacific Northwest; L&C forensics wins gold for 4th straight year
At the end of the 2017-18 season, it appeared that the competition for top overall student in the Northwest Forensics Conference would be wide open, as Lewis & Clark graduated the top two students in the conference, entering the new competition year with a talented but young team.
At the end of the NFC season, however, it became clear that L&C’s overall excellence would continue unabated and championships would continue to come to Palatine Hill.
Ally Knighton (CAS ’21) was named the winner of the 2019 Coaches Commemorative Award, given to the top overall student in speech and debate activities in the Pacific Northwest. The award was given at the conclusion of the Western Washington Viking Invitational (Jan 25-27), the final tournament of three NFC designated championship tournaments throughout the season. Knighton bested over 300 students from 35 Northwest schools for the honor.
Knighton won the award based upon performances from L&C’s home tournament in October, where she was named top individual speaker, and in Bellingham, where she placed first in Dramatic Interpretation, second in Informative Speaking, second in Prose Interpretation, third in After Dinner Speaking and third in Duo Interpretation with partner Amy Borton (CAS ’22).
Knighton’s win marks the fourth consecutive year a Lewis & Clark student has won the NFC’s top honors, and Knighton is the second sophomore ever to win the award (L&C’s Jacob Wisda also won as a sophomore in 2016). It caps a standout January where she also advanced to final rounds in Dramatic Interpretation and Informative Speaking at the Hell Froze Over Swing in Peoria, IL; she was the first L&C student ever to advance to finals at that prestigious event, and finished in second place in Dramatic Interpretation.
Director of Forensics Joe Gantt said of Knighton’s award, “From the moment Ally stepped onto campus, we knew that she was an exceptional talent. This year she has, through her hard work and inspired performances, shown the region and entire country what we already knew. Beyond that, Ally is an great teammate and an amazing example of what a forensics competitor should be. I am so proud that she won the Coaches Commemorative Award, and I look forward to seeing what might be next.”
The honors did not stop with Knighton’s award, however, as three other Lewis & Clark students won events at WWU:
Borton: first in Prose Interpretation, first in After Dinner Speaking, third in Dramatic Interpretation, third in Duo (with Knighton)
Brady Quick (CAS ’19): first in Persuasive Speaking, first in Informative Speaking, second in Dramatic Interpretation, fifth in Prose Interpretation
Aaron Lutz (CAS ’22): first in Extemporaneous Speaking, second in Impromptu speaking, third in Informative Speaking, fifth in After Dinner Speaking
Hope Smothers (CAS ’22): third in Poetry Interpretation
L&C’s parliamentary debate team of Kate McDonagh (CAS ’20) and Mary Talamantez (CAS ’21) also had a standout weekend, advancing to semifinals at the WWU tournament. McDonagh was named the fourth best individual speaker at the tournament and Talamantez 8th. This follows a strong performance at the prestigious Texas Two-Step earlier in January, where McDonagh and Talamantez also placed in semifinals.
The combined efforts of the L&C team throughout the season earned the squad one final honor at WWU: a gold medal for outstanding team performance from the NFC. This award recognizes programs for excellence in both speech and debate. It is the fourth consecutive gold medal for Lewis & Clark, the first time in its history that the program has maintained the award for such a sustained period of time.