Eight Linfield students see success at tournament

The Linfield Forensics team hosted the 80th Mahaffey Tournament, the largest annual tournament for the team, Oct. 29 to 31.
The team produced many winners. Eight members of the team reached finals in at least one event, and several took home awards.
Senior Darren Valenta, President of the Linfield branch of the Pi Kappa Delta forensics honor society, took first place in poetry reading. In the dramatic duo contest, Valenta took second with freshman Katie Pitchford and third place with freshman Kate Wyckoff. He also took second in mad libs interpretation.
Valento was the second best overall speaker in the individual events category — one of the most sought-after awards of the tournament.
Sophomore Chris Forrer won first place in the dramatic interpretation category, as well as fourth in dramatic duo with Pitchford, and was ranked as fifth-best overall speaker.
Pitchford won second place in junior prose interpretation and third place in junior poetry interpretation. Wyckoff took second place in junior program of oral interpretation, as well as third in mad libs interpretation.
Sophomore Linh Tang also brought home third in junior extemporaneous speaking.
For the first time in the tournament’s 80-year history, the mad libs event was added and the Brenda Devore Marshall Award was conferred.
Jackson Miller, associate professor of communication arts and director of forensics, created the mad libs interpretation event, during which competitors selected a series of mad libs words to put into a story, which they complete.
Miller also created the Brenda Devore Marshall Award, which he said was in honor of the current chair of the communications and theatre arts department, and the team’s former coach.
The award was given to the person who scored the highest in junior or novice categories. Finally, the Mahaffey Award, a 3-foot tall traveling trophy, was given to the team with the highest score overall.
The award this year went to Carrol College in Montana.
A competition for speaking and debating, the Mahaffey Memorial Tournament is held annually in the fall of each year and brings in about two dozen schools.
Most of these schools are from the Northwest, though some teams come as far away as Boston.
Linfield speech alumna and one of the organizers for the tournament Morgan St. Jean, ’08, said planning for Mahaffey began months ago.
Miller found and registered schools that wanted to participate.
St. Jean said it was a team effort bringing the tournament to fruition, as all members spent hours during the week and night before the event setting up the venues and moving things from Ford Hall, the usual headquarters of the team, to Riley Student Center.
Senior member of the team Rachel Mills testified to the rigor of the training program.
Everyone entered in multiple events and trained for them at least two days out of the week.
The team prepared debate briefs Tuesdays and put on mock debates in the Speech Lab.
There was individual event practice on Wednesdays, during which team members rehearse for each other.
Ultimately, Mills said, each member of the team is motivated to succeed and practiced outside of the scheduled times.
“It’s a very individual contest. You can’t rely on your coach to prepare you; you have to really do it yourself,” she said.
Such training was particularly called for this year since half the members are freshmen.
Valenta says that this has been great for the team overall and the freshmen’s success is a positive sign.
Half of the team graduated last year, and with even more poised to graduate this spring, he finds it encouraging to see the new generation doing as well as they are.
“The talent coming in from high school is great,” he said. “It’s great to see that talent replacement.”

Matt Sunderland/Senior reporter
Matt Sunderland can be reached at linfieldreviewmanaging@gmail.com.

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