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Forensics team nets two top 15 finishes

Forensics team nets two top 15 finishes

The UW-Eau Claire forensics team traveled to the National Forensic Association and American Forensic Association tournaments with top rankings last month.

Eighteen students from a variety of majors attended NFA and eight traveled to AFA. Overall, the team placed 14th at AFA in Texas and placed seventh in NFA in Ohio, according to third-year competitor and senior Jessica Krentz.

Krentz, who competed in six events, was a quarterfinalist in impromptu speaking at AFA and took sixth place in the nation in extemporaneous speaking at NFA.

“I’m very proud of how far the team came this year,” Krentz said. “It was a great honor to see us take seventh in the nation and a great way to cap off my last year.”

Other quarterfinalists, semifinalists and finalists included senior James Kust, freshman Jake Stendahl, senior Natalie Hunter and sophomore Jarrel Montgomery. Montgomery took sixth place at NFA in dramatic interpretation.

Patrick Martin, a senior and fourth year competitor, was a finalist in extemporaneous speaking at NFA with Krentz. Martin took fifteenth place individually at NFA, in addition to being a quarterfinalist in rhetorical criticism and persuasion.

Martin said his final year as a competitor was incredible.

“The team had a lot to live up to after our extremely strong senior class led us to spectacular finishes at last year’s national tournaments,” he said.  “We continued the tradition of excellence while encouraging and training a talented group of underclassmen.”

Eau Claire’s forensics program dates back to  1944 when Grace Walsh started a debate group. Until the 1980s, she helped create events, assistant coach Kelly Jo Wright said.

“She’s still well known by (forensics) veterans,” Wright said.

Karen Morris, the director of forensics for 15 years, also mentioned Walsh when talking about nationals.

“When you think of forensics, you can’t help but think Grace Walsh. Others see our team as one of ethical, long standing tradition (with) good people and that’s important to me,”
she said.

Morris added she feels lucky to have worked with students who are able to manage all their responsibilities. She said how wonderful the senior class has been, as they needed to take on the leadership of the team.

“We have amazing seniors … their leadership is how we earned the team trophy,” she said.  “Other universities know this name and most people stand up and clap while the seniors get the trophy.”

Wright spoke of the hard work the team put in during the year-long season.

“I’m always so impressed to see the balance students have to take on,” she said. “They have to be competitive, manage school, relationships and jobs.”

Eau Claire has been so supportive and accepting of the team, Morris said, who returned to classes after the tournaments to congratulatory posters on her door.

Martin acknowledged what his experiences of the last four years have done for him.

“It has improved my ability to speak in front of any audience,” he said.  “It has given me more than I can say.”

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