The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Forensics wins 20th consecutive state championship

It was only 7:40 a.m. and the footbridge was crowded, but no one was moving. “The bridge was packed,” junior Chris Warren said. Students and faculty were not on their way to classes or work Wednesday morning. They were on the bridge as part of the ceremony to remember the tragedy that occurred in the United States one year ago.

The UW-Eau Claire forensics team won the Wisconsin State Tournament last weekend, which was held at UW-Whitewater. This is the team’s 20th straight state championship.

The team competed on Friday and Saturday against teams from UW-Madison, UW-Whitewater, UW-Oshkosh, Carroll University and Ripon College. The team had members win state championships in ten of the 11 individual events.

Sophomore public relations major Jarrel Montgomery competed in two Duo programs, as well as Poetry, Prose and Drama. Montgomery said a Duo involves two people who can’t look at or touch each other, but still have to remain in sync. Montgomery won a state title in Poetry, Prose, and one of his Duo programs. Montgomery said it feels good to be a state champion.

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“You have these events since September, so it really does pay off to have a state championship in something you worked so hard for,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery said the reason he came to Eau Claire was because of the forensics program, and he feels blessed to be a part of the long tradition of excellence of the program.

There can be multiple reasons why students are drawn to forensics, and in Montgomery’s case, he said it involves a lifelong desire to perform and improving his communication skills so he can attend law school in the future.

“I’ve been on the stage since I was a little kid, so that’s just something that’s second nature to me,” Montgomery said.  “I think that’s one of the reasons why I do it: help with communications and to fulfill a need to perform.”

Junior Megan Chilman competed in Dramatic Interpretation and Poetry, and won the state title in Dramatic Interpretation. This was her first appearance at a state tournament for college forensics, and her first win.  She said it felt pretty cool to be a state champion in college forensics.

“(I) Wasn’t entirely expecting it,” Chilman said.  “But at the same time, I’m very honored to have gotten it.”

Chilman said it also feels amazing to be a part of the forensics tradition in Eau Claire.

“Our motto is ‘excellence,’ and we really live up to that standard,” Chilman said.  “Going into this tournament, it was really engraved into us that this was a legacy that we were continuing on.”

One of the team’s directors, Kelly Jo Wright, said that while coaching forensics is different from coaching a sport, there are still similarities involved.

“It still has the same competitive values that any sport does,” Wright said.  “The desire to be the best, the desire to perfect technique, the desire to be innovative.”

Wright said that she draws a lot of coaching tips from the world of sport, specifically from former Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi.

“His enthusiasm for his players, his love of the game, his ability to challenge his players in an optimistic way are all things I’ve learned from him,” Wright said.

Wright said the team now moves on to three different national tournaments. The first tournament is the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament in Texas, where the team will send six to eight students.

After that, is the National Forensics Association national tournament in Ohio, to which the team will send around 15 students. Finally, senior Holly Albers will compete at the Interstate Oratory tournament in Boston where Eau Claire has won the last three championships.

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Forensics wins 20th consecutive state championship