Forensics team successful at Iowa and Illinois tournaments

Story by Courtney Kueppers, Copy Editor

The UW-Eau Claire director of forensics Karen Morris frequently tells her team “forensics doesn’t just make good speakers, it makes good people.”

Those people who make up the forensics program at Eau Claire have a winning tradition and this season is no exception. Now, in the latter part of their season the forensics team has picked things up and are starting to see the success they want.

Forensics Vice President Abby Rand said the team had a bit of a rocky start this year, but things are looking up a bit in the second semester.

The team started to turn things around when they competed at back-to-back tournaments in January. They trekked to the University of Northern Iowa Jan. 19 and 20 and then Northern Illinois University the following weekend.

In Iowa, the group took fourth in team sweepstakes on Jan. 19 and third on Jan. 20. The following week with good spirits they were able to continue the high rankings in Illinois with a sixth-place finish on Jan. 26 at Mid-America Forensics League (MAFL) no. 5 and fifth at MAFL no. 6 the following day.

According to junior team member Jarrell Montgomery, back-to-back tournaments such as these are very motivating but there is also a tough balance.

“The hard thing is, is coming from a successful tournament and then going back you really have to push yourself to not be comfortable with what you got last week, Montgomery said. “You still have to practice and work really, really hard.”

Another major recent success was taking second place in team sweepstakes at their home tournament; The Grace Walsh individual events tournament, nicknamed “Love Fest,” took place on campus on Feb. 9-10. The team co-hosted the tournament with Ripon College. They served as hosts on Saturday and competed on Sunday to secure a second-place finish.

Many of the high-placing individual finishes at recent competitions have come from the freshman class, one of the largest in the program’s history. Five freshmen placed within the top seven of their events in Iowa, while three more broke the top seven during their weekend in Illinois.

Already qualified for both national forensic tournaments, freshman Jake Wrasse is proud of the accomplishments of his teammates thus far.

“It’s been a really great year for our freshman class,” Wrasse said. “We’ve worked really hard and considering that we’ve had a lot of success.”

Montgomery said the success of the freshmen has been unexpected but has helped the team immensely.

“They are just a very talented bunch,” Montgomery said. “Usually freshman year is all about learning and adapting … but they just got it and it has clicked for all of them and they are performing at levels no one expected.”

While the team is excited about the success they’ve seen they are not satisfied and said they’re staying focused on what lies ahead for them.

This weekend the team will compete at the Wisconsin State Forensics tournament held at UW-Stout. The Blugolds have taken first at the state tournament for the past 20 years.

“We are very excited to go this weekend because we are definitely going to be a full force there,” Rand said.

Even though the team is confident, it doesn’t mean teams who always place well are not on their radar. Montgomery said there will be good teams there and Eau Claire knows there are high expectations for them to meet.

“The expectation is not only for us to come and win, the expectation is for us to come and be Eau Claire and to have beautiful events and strong performances,” Montgomery said. “That’s really hard because this second semester there have been tournaments every weekend so people are tired.”

With a few wins under their belts the forensics team will continue to focus on defending their titles this weekend at state and in the upcoming months at the national level.