April 19, 2022

Lewis & Clark’s Webb and Lutz win national championships; squad wins title for second consecutive year

Alex Webb (’22) won the national championship in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Aaron Lutz (’22) won titles in both Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking, and Lewis & Clark’s squad won the President’s I award as the nation’s top program of its size.
  • The Lewis & Clark team

The 2022 National Forensic Association championship tournament was billed as the “return to Normal”, a play on words considering that the tournament was in person for the first time since 2019, as well as the fact that it was held at Illinois State University in Normal, IL.

There was nothing normal about Lewis & Clark’s performances, however. 

Alex Webb (’22) won the national championship in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Aaron Lutz (’22) won titles in both Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking, and Lewis & Clark’s squad won the President’s I award as the nation’s top program of its size.

L&C began competing in Lincoln-Douglas Debate in 2018. LD is an individual format of debate with one topic for the academic year, and competitors must be prepared to make evidence based arguments on both sides of the topic. This year’s resolution was, “The United States federal government should substantially curtail its counterterrorism operations in one or more of the following areas: statutory authorization for use of military force, air and/or drone strikes, combat and/or 127e programs.”

Webb was a member of that first LD class in 2018. Four years later, he earned the program its first national championship in the format. After besting debaters from the University of the Pacific, Lafayette College, the University of Nebraska and Washburn University in single elimination debates, Webb won a 4-3 decision of a judges panel in the final debate to defeat Western Kentucky University for the title. Webb finished first in a field of 89 debaters.

Lutz was no stranger to national final appearances. The last time that the NFA tournament was held in person, Lutz won the national championship in extemporaneous speaking. This year, he earned final round appearances in both events (extemporaneous, impromptu) that emphasize the skills of giving a speech with limited preparation. In extemporaneous speaking, competitors prepare for 30 minutes to speak on a current events topic; in impromptu, competitors prepare for just one to two minutes to give a speech on a variety of quotations and proverbs. 

Lutz finished first in extemporaneous out of a field of 103 competitors; in impromptu, his win was out of 122 competitors, as he was the first person since 2013 to win both limited preparation titles in the same year.  Lutz also finished as a semifinalist in Rhetorical Criticism and a quarterfinalist in Informative Speaking.

Hope Smothers (’22) added to her AFA national championship from earlier this month with a second place finish in Prose Interpretation, an event which requires students to select prose material of literary merit and develop that story through oral interpretation. It is the second consecutive year that she finished as the runner-up at the NFA championship. Smothers also finished as a quarterfinalist in Rhetorical Criticism, Duo Interpretation, Poetry Interpretation and Dramatic Interpretation.

Overall, 32 individual events from L&C advanced to elimination rounds, contributing to the second consecutive national championship as a squad at NFA; last year, the L&C team earned the President’s II championship. Lewis & Clark was also named the 4th overall squad in the nation in speech and 5th in Lincoln-Douglas Debate sweepstakes.

Other standout performances that contributed to the squad finish included:

Ruby Guzman (’25): Semifinalist Dramatic; Quarterfinalist Poetry

Eden Kenney (’22): Quarterfinalist Rhetorical Criticism, Duo, Informative; Octafinalist Persuasive Speaking

Grace Elkhal (’24): Quarterfinalist Poetry; Octafinalist Rhetorical Criticism, Program Oral Interpretation, Prose, Duo

Syl Knauss (’24): Quarterfinalist Duo, Octafinalist Dramatic, Program Oral Interpretation, Prose

Catie McCarty (’24): Quarterfinalist Duo

Gavin Patchet (’23): Octafinalist Extemporaneous, Impromptu

Rosalie Zuckermann (’25): Octafinalist Dramatic, Program Oral Interpretation

Danny Brady (’23): Octafinalist Informative

Josie Stenzel (’24): Octafinalist After-Dinner Speaking

Hannah Marians (’24): Octafinalist Persuasive

Emma Ramsey (’24): Octafinalist Persuasive

Jack Norman (’24): Octafinalist Impromptu

The NFA Championship Tournament was the final competition of the season for the Lewis & Clark team.