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Whitworth’s Forensic Team Wins National Tournament for Eighth Time

April 1, 2021

The Whitworth University forensics team claimed the No. 1 spot for the eighth time in nine years at the National Christian College Forensics Association’s tournament March 25-28.

Nineteen teams participated this year. The Arguing Bucs finished ahead of national rivals including California Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, Grand Canyon University and Liberty University. 

Chauncella Koulibali ’22 was the top overall competitor, winning individual events in prose, poetry and programmed oral interpretation, as well as a pair of individual sweepstakes awards. Olivia Bolin ’24 was the top novice (first-year) competitor at the tournament. 

In the speech category, Bolin took second in prose and second in poetry. Tricia Cebotari ’24 took third in novice extemporaneous speaking and fifth in novice impromptu speaking.

Drew Lorenc ’23 won after-dinner speaking for the second year in a row and took fourth in informative speaking. Emma Maple ’24 won persuasion. Sanjay Philip ’21 won impromptu speaking. Celeste Riley-Norman ’23 took second in after-dinner speaking, fourth in persuasion and fifth in informative speaking.

Debate award winners included semifinalist Drew Lorenc and quarterfinalists Aidan Hollister ’23, Skye Gordon ’23 and Sanjay Philip. Speaking awards went to Hollister for second place, Gordon for third and Chauncella Koulibali for fourth place.  

In the junior division, Payton Lo ’22 and Kacie Foster ’22 were quarterfinalists. Speaking awards went to Lo for second place, Celeste Riley-Norman for third place and Tricia Cebotari for fifth place. 

Guest judges at the tournament included alumni Micah Allred ’17, Elizabeth Jacobs Bone ’17, Jordan Bone ’18, Jacob Farrell ’19, Rebecca Korf ’15, Bri Miller ’15 and Tucker Wilson ’20.

The team’s final tournament of the season will be the online International Public Debate Association National Tournament, April 9-11.

The team is coached by Professor of Communication Studies Mike Ingram, Stephanie Gibbons ’15 and Lori Welch ’90.

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Michael Ingram, professor of communication studies, director of forensics, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4428 or

 Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or