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Brownson Speech and Debate Team Champions Its First Asynchronous Tournament  

Photo of Brian Sumereau

Brian Sumereau competed in Informative Speech at OATS 4.

The Seton Hall Forensics Brownson Speech and Debate Team housed within the College of Communication and the Arts started the new year strong with wins at three tournaments, including First Place Team Sweepstakes at its first asynchronous tournament.

During OATS 4 (Online Asynchronous Tournament Series 4), which was Brownson's first asynchronous tournament, the team competed in 11 different events against 24 schools including Northwestern University, Purdue University, George Mason University, Ball State University, Western Kentucky University, University of Northern Iowa and University of Alabama.

Photo of Sam Keegan

Sean Keegan competed in Persuasive Speech at OATS 4.

In addition to winning First Place Team Sweepstakes, senior and team captain Brian Sumereau won first speaker at the tournament, and junior Sean Keegan took fourth overall. Additional first place finishes included Sumereau in After Dinner Speaking and sophomore Daniel O'Connor in Persuasion. With 12 awards earned in total, Keegan finished second in Informative, and Sumereau took second in Communication Analysis. 

"Competing in an asynchronous tournament was definitely new for us, and it's something we will continue to improve in over the remainder of the season," said Sumereau. "We were so fortunate to know that even in an asynchronous format, the messages we're spreading still create an impact and reach audiences from around the country."

The Brownson team also competed with success at two virtual tournaments earlier in January. At the 22nd annual "Hell Froze Over" Swing virtually hosted by Bradley University and the University of Texas at Austin, Brownson competed in the largest tournament of the year against 28 teams across the nation on Jan. 16. The Brownson troupe finished fifth overall at this tournament which has perennially brought out the dominant players in forensics for a "pre-national" showcase event.

During Part 1 of the tournament on Jan. 16, the Seton Hall speakers advanced to eight semi-final rounds, and three students competed in the finals. Junior Emily Feazel reigned champion in Dramatic Interpretation, junior Dana Bell won Prose Interpretation and O'Connor took second in Persuasive Speaking. 

The following day at Part 2 of the tournament saw Feazel again winning Dramatic Interpretation. Other semi-finalist included sophomore Meg Gawron and Sumereau in Communication Analysis, as well as Keegan in Extemporaneous Speaking and Persuasion and Sumereau in Persuasion.

Next, Brownson competed in the fifth Southern and Northern Atlantic Forensics Union tournament of the season. Co-hosted by University of North Carolina at Charlotte, this virtual competition on Jan. 24 saw the Seton Hall speakers win first place in Individual Events and Combined Debate and Speech Sweepstakes against 14 schools including Eastern Michigan University, Cornell University, Kent State University, The University of Alabama, University of Central Florida, Queens College, Rutgers University, Bowling Green State University and others. 

Highlights included freshman Safa Shaikh with best speaker points in debate and second in IPDA debate. Feazel took first in After Dinner Speaking, and Gawron won first in Poetry. The Brownson team also saw second place finishes earned by Keegan in Extemporaneous Speaking and Bell in Informative. 

"The Brownson Team remains committed to excellence in speech and advocacy, and the student's hard work is demonstrated in the laurels they earn at these competitions," said Catherine Zizik, M.F.A., associate professor of communication and founding director of forensics.

Brownson Forensics Speech and Debate team is known for its tradition of rhetorical excellence, stemming back over 75 years. Zizik is thankful to many alumni who have reached out to hear student speeches and to the team's head coach, Sam Ohrenberger-Hopkins, M.A., lecturer of communication. According to Zizik, "The team flourishes as a competitive, academic, co-curricular activity dedicated to the advancement of logic, argumentative skills, advocacy, creativity, rhetorical excellence and performance artistry through undergraduate intercollegiate forensics."

Categories: Arts and Culture , Nation and World , Research

For more information, please contact:

  • Catherine Zizik
  • 862-253-7886
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