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College of Human Development, Culture, and Media

Brownson Speech and Debate Team Triumphs, Sows Seeds for the Future

Tristan Radcliffe and Catherine Jones

Sophomores Catherine Jones '26 and Tristan Radcliffe '26 with their quarterfinalist awards.

Seton Hall’s Brownson Speech and Debate Team celebrates a resounding triumph, continuing its journey through the national circuit with top wins and sowing the seeds for a sound future as preparations for the forthcoming academic season are already underway.

The young Brownson Team again celebrated its ongoing success after qualifying to compete in 29 different events at the 2024 American Forensics Association Speech Tournament (AFA-NST), hosted by the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, from April 6 to 8.

"Despite our modest numbers, our team's expertise and commitment to the advancement of rhetorical excellence as well as their acumen shone through, securing top 20 honors in the nation, alongside four quarter-finalist positions in Dramatic Interpretation of Literature, After Dinner Speaking, Informative Speaking, and Persuasive Speaking," said Catherine H. Zizik, chair of the department of Communication, Media, and the Arts; associate professor and director, Forensics, College of Human Development, Culture, and Media.

Brownson team

Top row: Bryce Leatham '25, Amos Willey '26, Tristan Radcliffe '26. Botton row: Emily Vaca '26, Catherine Jones '26, Karissa Kromminga '27.

This followed its prestigious win in March at the 2024 Pi Kappa Delta (PKD) National Tournament in Glendale, Arizona, where 59 colleges and universities’ teams and more than 1,450 individual entries, represented the nation’s oldest forensics honor society in four intense days of competition. Brownson students’ sophomore Amos Willey ’26, freshman Joshua Yue ’27, sophomore Tristan Radcliffe ’26, sophomore Catherine Jones ’26, and sophomore Emily Vaca ’26, clinched seventh place nationally, accompanied by the crowning glory of Jones, who emerged as the national champion in Informative Speaking.

The talent of Radcliffe and Jones again were showcased at the Interstate Oratorical Association’s National Contest from April 26 to 28 at the University of Illinois, Chicago. They were selected for their stellar performances as the top two speakers from New Jersey and Jones was crowned one of the top six overall speakers.

"Such feats, particularly Catherine’s achievement as a sophomore, are truly remarkable. Both Tristan and Catherine will soon find their oratorical addresses immortalized in the text, Winning Orations of 2024," reported Zizik.

Brownson members

Amos Willey '26, Emily Vaca '26, Tristan Radcliffe '26, Bryce Leatham '25, Catherine Jones '26, and Karissa Kromminga '27, holding their quarter finalist and 19th place trophies.

Zizik announced that out of 66 freshman applicants vying for a position on the team and a scholarship, six rising freshmen have been offered awards. Four have accepted the honor and will be welcomed into the Brownson fold this August. Additionally, they will continue to hold walk-on auditions throughout the summer and into September, welcoming talent from far and wide.

Zizik credited head coach Brian Sumereau ’21, assistant coach Abigail Thow ’19 and Jessica Rauchberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of Communication Technologies, College of Human Development, Culture, and Media, "whose tireless efforts have nurtured and honed our students’ talents, shaping them into exemplar models of rhetorical excellence."

For more information on Brownson Speech and Debate Team, visit here.

Categories: Arts and Culture