The power of speech and debate at Ohio University has never been so clear: The 2008-2009 Forensics Team concluded its season with a seventh-place ranking in Open Division Sweepstakes at the 2009 National Forensics Association (NFA) National Tournament.
The tournament ran from April 16 through April 20 in Springfield, Mo.
Dan West, John A. Cassese Director of Forensics, said he couldn't be more pleased with how the year ended, especially after the team ranked 10th at the American Forensics Association tournament earlier this month.
"It's definitely not a fluke; we really are this amazing!" West said. "We have a very young team, but a lot of depth. They are some of the best competitors in the nation."
West puts the win in historical perspective with the following facts:
- It's the 18th top-10 finish for the Bobcats since the founding of the NFA in 1971.
- It's the first time the Bobcat Speech Team has been in the top 10 at nationals since 2002 when members placed 8th under the direction of Dr. Jerry Miller.
"We're finally seeing the results of our past success paying off in great recruiting classes," West said. "My juniors -- Dan Glaser and Dani Bernat -- are the first team members I recruited from high school. With their leadership and other young team members who qualified for this year's national competitions, next year will be even better."
Glaser also picked up his fourth individual national championship title at the NFA tournament, bringing the team's individual title count to six this season.
"It's befitting for a top-ranked college of communication to have a top-ranked speech and debate team," said Scripps College of Communication Dean Gregory J. Shepherd. "Finishing in the top 10 in any national competition is always taken to be the mark of achievement. I'm enormously proud of Director Dan West and the team."
West said the strong finish is also a nod to Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's request to educators to focus on academic contests.
"Ohio University should be really proud of this accomplishment, because we're an academic university, and this is an academic ranking," West said, adding that it makes the Speech and Debate Team the highest-ranked team at Ohio University.
Bernat, who competes at the Interstate Oratory Contest in Oxford, Miss., on Friday, is still trying to believe how well the team performed.
"Dan Glaser and I were joking this weekend that the way Dan [West] recruited us was by promising us we'd one day be part of a top-10-in-the-nation team," she said. "In just three short years, with all the work we've put in, to have gotten seventh in the nation and surpassed our goal left us speechless. It's still very surreal."
Bernat said she is looking forward to continuing to "build the empire" and believes that, one day, Ohio University will be the top team in the nation.
Complete results from the NFA National Tournament are as follows:
7th Place - Ohio University
12th Place - Dan Glaser
Semi Finalist - Dan Glaser
Quarter Finalist - Dani Bernat & Jill Flauto
Quarter Finalist - Jeremy Frazer & Tony Sylvester
Quarter Finalist - Nadine Ajaka
5th Place - Ted Dacey
Quarter Finalist - Dan Glaser
Quarter Finalist - Dan Glaser
Double Octafinalist - Hassan Sheikh
Semi Finalist - Mike Catlos
Quarter Finalist - Annie Farinella
Rhetorical Criticism National Champion