The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

El Camino forensics team wins top speaker award for first time in 22 years

The Top Speaker in the Nation Award has not been won by an El Camino College student since 2001.

Javon Johnson won the award when he was in his second year competing for the forensics program at El Camino.

In order to earn the award, a competitor has to gain the most points across all events at Phi Rho Pi.

At the 2023 Phi Rho Pi National Tournament, Cody Hagemeier, co-president of the forensics team, gained the most points in his events to win the top speaker award.

Hagemeier had little downtime during the tournament as the majority of his days consisted of 12 to 14 hours of intellectual strain.

During that time, Hagemeier learned the power of momentum and said when he is focused for so long, he develops a habit where things start clicking.

“After that point in time it felt like I could do pretty much anything,” Hagemeier said.

In regards to the rest of the team, Hagemeier said this tournament was “the culmination” of all the practicing they have done throughout the year and they were able to “put it to the test” against other schools.

This year’s tournament was hosted in Washington, D.C., from April 10-15, and had around 600 competitors from 55 community colleges around the U.S.

Other El Camino students continued to add more awards and honors for the forensics program after earning medals in events including impromptu speaking, extemporaneous speaking and debates.

The forensics team also retained the Debate National Championship for the sixth straight year.

The list of awards the forensics team won includes:

Bovero-Tabor Award: Cody Hagemeier
Fish-Nelson National Forensics Association Lincoln Douglas Award: Cody Hagemeier
Phi Rho Pi Service Award: Francesca Bishop
Warren-Dahlin Fellowship Award for Students: Jana Abulaban
Open IPDA (International Public Debate Association):
Gold – Cody Hagemeier
Bronze – Jana Abulaban
Open Extemporaneous Speaking:
Gold – Cody Hagemeier
Bronze – Josiah Edwards
Open Speech to Entertain: Bronze – Uzair Pasta
Open Impromptu Speaking:
Gold – Josiah Edwards
Silver – Uzair Pasta
Bronze – Jana Abulaban, Alex Christenson, Sabrina Rashiq
Open Informative Speaking: Bronze – Danielle Kabboul
Open NPDA (National Parliamentary Debate Association):
Gold – Josiah Edwards and Sophia Suh
Silver – Sheriff Abdrahman and Uzair Pasta
Silver – Jana Abulaban and Cody Hagemeier

Despite all the good feelings he had after winning the top speaker in the nation, Hagemeier still focused on things he could have done better.

“It’s good to earn that for the school, coaches, and program,” Hagemeier said. “It’s not just about me, it’s a testament to the coaching and the program [at El Camino].”

Forensics coach Brittany Hubble told The Union winning the top speaker award is an “incredibly hard thing to do” and it was nice to see Hagemeier win after he worked so hard.

“Everything has to come together perfectly at the right time,” Hubble said.

Hubble added the team had a “good experience” exploring the city, visiting landmarks and enjoyed taking a water taxi to Alexandria, Virginia.

Hubble is proud of the team after “seeing them work hard all year” and coming back from Phi Rho Pi with awards.

Pre-engineering major Miguel Oliveros has been on the forensics team since Aug. 2022 and has competed in at least 10 events.

Oliveros said it was “fun traveling to Washington, D.C.,” for the tournament, seeing all the monuments in the area, and bonding with other members of the team.

Vice President of Individual Events for the forensics team Jana Abulaban said she felt “privileged and honored” to compete at Phi Rho Pi and “be amongst incredible people.”

Abulaban earned a bronze award in a debate event and impromptu speaking, along with a silver award for a partner debate event where she competed with Hagemeier.

Along with her event awards, Abulaban also earned the Warren-Dahlin Fellowship Award, where students from Southern California vote for the competitor that embodies the best qualities in intercollegiate forensics.

“It felt very special to know that I have upheld the standard that other students were looking for as a leader and forensics competitor,” Abulaban said. “It makes me happy that they saw me fit for this award.”

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