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Speech and Debate

Dead Heat: Lewis & Clark’s Knighton & Lutz tie to seal team’s fifth straight NFC championship

January 27, 2020

  • Aaron Lutz & Ally Knighton with the Coaches’ Commemorative Award

Ally Knighton (’21) and Aaron Lutz (’22) made history in the Northwest Forensics Conference in a variety of ways at the final NFC tournament of the year, held January 24-26 at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR. Knighton and Lutz tied for the Coaches Commemorative Award, which is given to the most outstanding speech & debate competitor in the Pacific Northwest. It is believed to be the first tie for the award in its history. Their win marks the fifth consecutive year that Lewis & Clark students have won the CCA, also a record. And for the fifth consecutive year as well, Lewis & Clark received a gold medal for outstanding team performance during the season.

The Coaches’ Commemorative Award is granted to the student who performs the best across three designated regional championships throughout the season. Lutz entered the weekend as the points leader, and continued to add to his total with an excellent performance at the Pacific tournament. He won first place in Extemporaneous Speaking, first place in Impromptu Speaking, third place in After-Dinner Speaking and second place in British Parliamentary Debate.

However, Knighton nearly overcame that lead by winning five titles in individual events, an extraordinary achievement. Knighton won championships in Communication Analysis, Program Oral Interpretation, Poetry Interpretation, Dramatic Interpretation and also won in Duo Interpretation with partner Hope Smothers (’22). She also finished second in Prose Interpretation. For the Pacific tournament itself, Knighton finished as the top individual speaker at the tournament.

Director of Speech & Debate Joe Gantt said of Lutz & Knighton, “It is so fitting that Ally and Aaron tied for this award. They have both been exemplars of how to be successful in this activity, and both have had an incredible season to date following up their national championships last year. It would have been a shame for either of them to lose! So I am glad they get to share the award, as they are both deserving.”

Smothers had a strong weekend across several events. In addition to the Duo title with Knighton, Smothers finished second in Dramatic Interpretation and Prose Interpretation. Gavin Patchet (’23) added a championship in Persuasive Speaking, while Danny Brady (’23) was fifth in Informative Speaking and Kenneth Leja (’21) was sixth in Extemporaneous Speaking.

The competition finished a furious couple of weeks for the L&C speakers, as they competed the prior weekend at the prestigious Hell Froze Over Swing held at UT-Austin. Knighton won Communication Analysis, Lutz won Extemporaneous Speaking and the Smothers/Knighton duo placed second in a field of many of the top speakers in the nation.

Two thousand miles away, the Lincoln-Douglas debaters for Lewis & Clark were competing at the Gorlok Gala, a tournament hosted by Webster University. The Gorlok Gala is the largest regular season tournament for Lincoln-Douglas debate. Lewis & Clark’s debaters had their best ever showing at the tournament, with Anthony Kolshorn (’22) advancing to the quarterfinal round in the varsity division, Cas Mulford (’23) making it to quarterfinals in junior varsity, and Phillip Geiser (’23) making it to the round of 32. Kolshorn was named the 3rd best individual speaker in the open division, while Mulford was honored as the 2nd best individual speaker in junior varsity.

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Joe Gantt
Director of Speech & Debate
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