BGSU’s Forensics Team had cause for celebration last week, having swept the prestigious, 37th annual Mad Hatter Tournament at Bloomsburg (Pa.) University Nov. 5-6. The Mad Hatter is considered one of the top competitions in the world of forensics, which includes speech, debate and competitive performance, said Forensics and Debate Director Paul Wesley Alday, theatre and film.
BGSU won the Team Sweepstakes in the Pennsylvania competition despite the fact that only about a third of the team, five members, was available to compete. Team members placed in 18 of the 20 events in which they competed.
“Most of our seniors were not able to attend because they were participating in a major theatre and film departmental event,” Alday said. “The really impressive thing about the team’s success is that we took a very small group of students and still placed in almost every event we entered.”
The team brought home a 14-foot trophy, to be housed on campus for the next year.
Recent trophy bearers include Cornell, George Mason, St. Joseph’s and Akron universities. “The trophy traditionally sits in the president’s or provost’s office of the winning universities,” Alday said. “In the late ‘90s, it was in the president’s office at Cornell University until George Mason University won it in 1999, and then we took it from them.”
“It was really exciting and we’re very proud,” said team member Michelle Baker. “We’ve been preparing for this for a long time.”
BGSU was also awarded first place among members of Pi Kappa Delta (PKD), the forensics honorary.
The Mad Hatter Tournament yielded other “firsts” for the University:
• Kenny Rogers, a sophomore from Peoria, Ill., was the Top Speaker at the event, earning first place among those competing in at least five events, known as the Pentathlon. A communications major, Rogers also earned first place in Dramatic Duo Presentation with teammate Jennifer Cole, second place in After-Dinner Speaking, third place in Prose Interpretation, fourth place in Persuasive Speaking and sixth place in Impromptu Speaking.
• Baker, Bowling Green’s PKD president, won first place in both Persuasive Speaking and Rhetorical Criticism, second place in Extemporaneous Speaking, third place in Dramatic Interpretation and fifth place in Informative Speaking. Overall, she placed third in the Pentathlon. Baker is a junior from Loudonville, Ohio, majoring in interpersonal communication and environmental policy.
• In addition to her win in Dramatic Duo Presentation with Rogers, Cole took third place in both After-Dinner Speaking and Impromptu Speaking. She is a junior from Detroit majoring in communications.
• Sarah Smith, a forensics novice (someone in his or her first full year of competing), won first place in Informative Speaking and fourth place in After-Dinner Speaking. Smith is a junior from Delta, Ohio, majoring in medical technology. The Mad Hatter was Smith’s third competition.
Also at the event, PKD Vice President Sarah Griffith, another novice, won second place in Dramatic Interpretation and third place in Informative Speaking. Griffith, from Wooster, Ohio, is an English major.
Alday said one of the best aspects of competing is the feedback students receive from outstanding judges, who come from the likes of Notre Dame and Cornell universities and the University of Michigan. “So we have the brightest minds giving us feedback, and we can take that and make adjustments for future events.”