The 2014-2015 season kicked off last weekend in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at the Wake Forest National Earlybird. Forty-nine extempers participated in the first national circuit competition competition of the year. In the final round, Yijia Liang of Upper Arlington High School (OH) earned a three rank victory over North Carolina native Eitan Sapiro-Gheiler of Durham Academy to claim the title. Liang, a semi-finalist at last season’s National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) nationals, becomes the first Ohio extemper in ten years to win Wake Forest. The last Ohio competitor to do so was Whitney Willits of Perry High School in 2004. The victory makes Liang the inaugural leader of this year’s National Points Race competition. It is his first national circuit victory as well.
Nathaniel Saffran of Trinity Preparatory School (FL) came close to succeeding his brother Miles as Wake Forest champion, but he fell four ranks shy. If he had been successful it would have been the first time that a sibling duo won a national circuit tournament in back-to-back years.
Elizabeth Kingaby of Central Cabarrus High School (NC) appeared in the Wake Forest final for the second consecutive year. She placed sixth.
Three of the finalists in this year’s tournament – Saffran, Sydney Britton of American Heritage School (FL), and Ben Tobin of Lake Braddock Secondary School (VA) – were semi-finalists in last year’s competition.
Of all of the schools competing at the tournament, Durham Academy had the most breaks with three. In addition to Sapiro-Gheiler’s runner-up finish, the school placed Abhishek Kodumagulla and Connor Leech in the semi-final round.
All of the finalists earned National Points Race points. Under the new qualification guidelines of the Extemporaneous Speaking Tournament of Champions (TOC) only the finalists earned qualifying legs. Two of the finalists – Liang and Tobin - were prequalified to this year’s TOC. The extempers that earned a qualification leg are indicated in italics in the results listing.