April 05, 2021

Smothers, Lutz lead L&C to best National Speech Tournament finish ever

Led by Hope Smothers (’22) and Aaron Lutz (’22), the Lewis & Clark speech team had its best finish ever at the National Speech Tournament as the 14th place squad in the nation.
  • (From top left, clockwise: Eden Kenney, Ally Knighton, Hope Smothers, Aaron Lutz)

Two years since the last nationals competition, and after a year of virtual competition where students spoke to audiences through computer screens rather than in person, the Lewis & Clark speech team finally got a chance to return to national competition.

And what a return it was.

Hope Smothers (’22) placed 4th in the nation in Prose Interpretation, Aaron Lutz (’22) finished in 6th place nationally in Impromptu Speaking, and Lewis & Clark finished among the top 15 schools in the nation at the National Speech Tournament, held April 2-5 on a virtual platform. Smothers and Lutz were the first ever national finalists from L&C at the NST.

This was the first time ever that the National Speech Tournament, formerly the National Individual Events Tournament, had ever been held in a virtual environment. Smothers and other L&C competitors performed from campus, while Lutz competed from home in Minnesota. 

Lewis & Clark also had four additional events that advanced to elimination rounds. Ally Knighton (’21) was a semifinalist in Informative Speaking, Smothers and Lutz added another semifinal in Dramatic Interpretation and Extemporaneous Speaking, respectively, and Eden Kenney (’22) advanced to quarterfinals in Communication Analysis. The combined performance of these students and all of the members of the L&C team led to a 14th place finish as a school, its best placement ever at the NST.

Lewis & Clark assistant coach Zachary Hanks said of the performance, “Wow! Whether experienced competitors or newer members, these speakers have shown so much courage to continue to have their voices heard during a worldwide pandemic. What an amazing showing at NST! I am so proud and happy to be a coach on this team.”

The speech/debate team will close its season April 16-19 at the National Forensics Association national championship and the United States Universities Debating Championships. Both speech and debate will be in competition that weekend.