Webster Forensic and Debate Students Shine at Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament

Pi Kappa tournamentWebster Forensic and Debate program's overall fifth-place showing at the 2019 Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament marks the second-best team national tournament finish in the team’s history


The Webster Forensic and Debate program brought home a fifth place overall team sweepstakes award from the 2019 Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament and Convention, held March 20-24 at Hofstra University in New York. Pi Kappa Delta is the largest and oldest collegiate forensic honor society in the United States. Their national tournament is annually the largest or second largest tournament held in the country.

Webster's fifth place team sweepstakes award is the highlight of 34 honors earned at the tournament that included 71 schools from 27 states. Among the individual honors earned are two national championships won by Olivia Potter (Interviewing) and Daniela Piazza (Spanish Oral Interpretation), Laurel Kratz’ third place finish (Informative Speaking), and Potter being one of ten individuals named as 2019 All-Americans.

The breadth and depth of success of Webster students not only earned the team their fifth place finish, but also team sweepstakes awards in debate and individual events. This marks the second-best team national tournament finish in the team’s history.

“This success is a result of a team that worked harder and bonded together in ways that are hard to put into words," said the team’s director, Gina Jensen. "We are graduating only one student from our competitive team. That we were able to excel to this degree with a team of nearly all first or second year forensics students is amazing. Another important perspective to this tournament is that collegiate forensics is an open field. Schools of all sizes compete together. It’s a validation of our students’ abilities and drive to succeed that we excelled at the level we did.”

Webster's History with Pi Kappa Delta

Webster’s presence was felt in other aspects of the tournament and convention. John Wallis was elected as the at-large student member to the Pi Kappa Delta National Council. He follows Potter, who completed a term in the same position.

Scott Jensen, professor of Sports Communication and Speech Communication Studies, edited the daily tournament newsletter in his role as a member of the National Council. Gina Jensen, director of Forensics, and Tom Serfass, assistant coach, each served on the tournament committee. Webster alumnus Ryan Louis '03, associate professor at Ottawa University, was elected president-elect of Pi Kappa Delta becoming the third person from Webster University to serve as Pi Kappa Delta president, following Scott and Gina Jensen.

Webster Forensic and Debate Team Awards

  • 5th Place - Overall Team Sweepstakes
  • Excellent - Team Debate Sweepstakes
  • Excellent - Team Individual Events Sweepstakes
  • All-American - Olivia Potter
  • National Champion - Olivia Potter, Interviewing
  • National Champion - Daniela Piazzi, Spanish Oral Interpretation
  • 3rd Place - Laurel Kratz, Informative Speaking
  • 3rd Place - Sarah Hill, Spanish Oral Interpretation
  • 4th Place - John Wallis and Zoe Rollins, Advocacy in Action
  • Quarterfinalists - Juliana Ness and Sarah Hill, Junior Parliamentary Debate
  • 7th Place - Zoe Rollins, Student Congress
  • 10th Place - John Wallis, Broadcast Journalism
  • 15th Place - Laurel Kratz, Impromptu Speaking
  • Excellent Award - Laurel Kratz, Extemp Speaking
  • Excellent Award - John Wallis, Extemp Speaking
  • Excellent Award - Regina Marley, Discussion
  • Excellent Award - John Wallis, Student Congress
  • Excellent Award - Laurel Kratz, Student Congress
  • Excellent Award - Daniela Piazzi, Novice Public Debate
  • Excellent Award - Lily Reed, Junior Public Debate
  • Excellent Award - Zoe Rollins, Impromptu Speaking
  • Excellent Award - John Wallis, Impromptu Speaking
  • Excellent Award - Sarah Hill, Impromptu Speaking
  • Excellent Award - Daniela Piazzi, Interviewing
  • Excellent Award - Sarah Hill, Interviewing
  • Excellent Award - Josh Campbell, Interviewing
  • Excellent Award - Lily Reed, Interviewing
  • Excellent Award - Olivia Potter, Persuasive Speaking
  • Excellent Award - Laurel Kratz, Persuasive Speaking
  • Excellent Award - Daniela Piazzi, Persuasive Speaking
  • Presiding Officer - John Wallis, Student Congress
  • Presiding Officer - Laurel Kratz, Student Congress
  • Showcase Performer - Daniela Piazzi, Spanish Oral Interpretation

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