April 23, 2019

Lewis & Clark’s Knighton and Lutz are national champions

Ally Knighton is the National Forensic Association’s national champion in Informative Speaking and Aaron Lutz is the NFA national champion in Extemporaneous Speaking.

Lewis & Clark has been competing in individual speech events for over fifty years. In those decades, through tens of thousands of performances, the program never has had a student win a national championship in an individual speech event.

After an historic Monday night in California, the Pios now have two.

Ally Knighton (CAS ’21) won the national championship in Informative Speaking and Aaron Lutz (CAS ’22) won the national championship in Extemporaneous Speaking, capping off an exceptional set of performances for Lewis & Clark at the National Forensic Association’s national championship tournament, held April 18-22 in Santa Ana, CA. Lewis & Clark was among 77 schools to attend the tournament.

Knighton was the top student in a field of 144 students in Informative Speaking. This event requires students to create an original, factual speech that informs the audience and describes the implications of an issue. A script is prepared and refined throughout the year to develop the strongest argument possible. Knighton’s speech explored the modern implications of hysteria diagnoses on women.

Knighton was joined in the final round by Brady Quick (CAS ’19), who finished in fifth place nationally. Quick’s speech examined the history and evolution of the LGBTQ acronym.

Lutz’ championship came in a field of of 133 students. Unlike Informative, Extemporaneous Speaking is a limited preparation event, where students have 30 minutes to prepare for a topic provided to them by the tournament. Lutz’s final round speech concerned Chinese-US relations in the context of Venezuela. 

Speech coach Michael Catlos said of the performances, “This is such an amazing accomplishment for both Ally and Aaron, and for the entire team. This is the culmination of a year of research, writing, repetition, practice and performance. These students rose to the occasion and I am so proud of them. This entire team has worked so hard and it is great when they get an opportunity to be rewarded at this level.”

Lewis & Clark’s NFA awards did not end there. Knighton also advanced to quarterfinals in Prose Interpretation, After Dinner Speaking, Rhetorical Criticism and Program Oral Interpretation; Quick advanced to octofinals in Rhetorical Criticism and Persuasive Speaking; Hope Smothers (CAS ’22) advanced to octofinals in Prose Interpretation and Informative Speaking; and John Ropp (CAS ’22) advanced to the round of 32 in Lincoln-Douglas Debate.

Knighton’s win, combined with other quarterfinal finishes, earned her 9th place in Individual Sweepstakes. This honor is given to students who excel across different events. Knighton’s top ten finish in that category is also a program record. As a squad, L&C finished in tenth place, with a special designation of 2nd place squad in the President’s II Division (small to medium sized squads).

Director of Forensics Joe Gantt said of the entire weekend, “What a fantastic day to be a Pio! These students put their heart and soul into these performances. It is an honor to direct a program where students are able to have their voice heard on so many important and vital issues, and our students deliver those arguments with intellectual rigor and engaging, passionate performances. With Ally and Aaron, it’s especially rare to have students in their first two years competing at a national championship level of performance. Our sole senior, Brady, also has been such an important part of this team. I am so proud of every member of this team and their contributions to what was a historic tournament for our program.”

The NFA Championship tournament concludes the season for Lewis & Clark Forensics.