ASU's Speech Team Wins National Championship

The ASU Forensics Speech Team continued a remarkable awards season, repeating their National Championship in Division II of the President’s Sweepstakes at the National Forensics Association National Tournament on April 16-20 at Ohio University. This is the second championship win for the team in two years. The National Forensics Association (NFA) is one of the largest organizations for college speech in the country.

The tournament hosted over 75 schools for competition by more than 800 students in 11 public speaking events. These events are divided into three categories: limited preparation events (Impromptu and Extemporaneous Speaking), public platform addresses (Persuasive, Informative, Rhetorical Criticism, and After Dinner Speaking), and interpretive events (Poetry, Prose, Dramatic, and Duo).

The ASU team competing at the NFA tournament consisted of three juniors—Paxton Attridge, Frankie Marchi, and James Qian—and one freshman—Abigail Toye. The four students entered competition in a total of 18 events, placing the squad in Division II.

The 160 points earned by the team was so strong that they more than doubled the score of the second place team, and placed 10th in the Open Division Sweepstakes. The award marks a return to the top 10 for the team—the last such appearance was a 6th place finish in 2008.

“Without contributions from every member of our team, this would not have been possible. The focus they’ve placed is on not only solid, rigorous argumentation but also engaging the audience with the heart they put into each performance” said coach John Grimm.

In order to amass so many points with so few students, the team needed a number of standout performances. Each of the events the team entered had more than 115 entries, with some reaching nearly 200 competitors.

James Qian took top 5 places in two separate events, a third event to semifinals, and a fourth event to quarterfinals. His 3rd place award in Extemporaneous Speaking and 5th place in Impromptu Speaking earned Qian 11th place Overall Individual Speaker at the tournament. Jose Magana was the last Arizona State student to be recognized in the individual sweepstakes awards, placing 6th in 2008.

“On the heels of winning a National Title in Impromptu Speaking just two weekends ago, Qian actually upped his game by carrying even more events into elimination rounds this weekend,” said Adam Symonds, Director of Forensics. “To be recognized as the 11th overall speaker is, in many ways, even more difficult than winning a national championship in a single event. The dedication to a single event must be duplicated across several events to even be competitive.”

Paxton Attridge contributed a semifinals placement in Impromptu Speaking marking his return to the top 12, who first earned that distinction in Extemporaneous Speaking at the 2014 NFA tournament. “From a coaches’ perspective, Paxton is really the team leader. He’s in the squad room practically every time I am there,” said Symonds. “He’s always pushing the other students to practice more events and offers feedback. When someone as selfless as Paxton has a performance like this, it makes you really, really proud to be a coach.”

Frankie Marchi earned distinction with his Poetry performance all the way to the semifinals to a top 12 finish. “There was a lot of buzz about Frankie’s poetry this weekend. He’s primed for a huge senior year,” Symonds raved.

Junior Frankie Marchi had this to say: “We’ve been told many times about the legacy of ASU Speech and have been frequently recognized by fellow competitors for ASU Speech’s alumni, but it feels like the competition will be recognizing the current team of ASU Speech from now on.”

ASU news article April 24, 2015