Forensics team places 13th in national tournament

UW-Eau Claire Forensics takes 5th place in Division II and 13th in the nation at the National Forensics Association Championships

Toby Mohr

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The Forensics team saw national success in individual and team competition

The UW-Eau Claire Forensics team placed 13th in the nation at the National Forensic Association Championship tournament last week. The team also took fifth place in the Presidents II Division and received 11 recognitions for individual performances.

Annie Ward, a third-year journalism and women, gender and sexuality studies student, reached the semi-finals in two of her four events, Program Oral Interpretation and After-Dinner Speech.

“After-dinner speaking is like a classic persuasive speech but the speaker can weave some comedy into it,” Ward said. “It’s one of my favorite events because you get to have a lot of fun with it.”

The NFA tournament was the first time Ward, who transferred to UW-Eau Claire after competing for two years at Minnesota State University in Mankato, placed in the semi-finals. 

Ward also reached the octo-finals in Prose Interpretation and Persuasive Speaking. 

In addition to Ward, six other Blugolds received national recognition.

Brock Erdman and Meghan Roeser each reached the quarter-finals in Persuasive Speaking and Roeser, Ali Metzan, Anika Emerson, Megan Schmitz and Luke Plagens, each reached octo-finals across three different events.

Forensics Director and speech lecturer Chris Outzen called the team’s success a tribute and result to their work ethic all season.

“We had competed in 14 tournaments throughout this academic year and our team has placed really well so we were feeling very good going into the National season,” Outzen said.

Outzen took over as director of the team in 2020 just months before the pandemic shut down the season. With the return to in-person competition this year, Outzen said he is really proud of how the team performed without experience with in-person competitions.

“We placed 13th in the nation with a very young team with no seniors, which is very rare,” he said.

Outzen said he hopes the team’s success reminds people that they are still here after the pandemic and carrying on the long legacy of forensics success at UW-Eau Claire. 

Ward said she hopes the team can turn this momentum into even more success next season for both new and returning members. 

“Now that we’ve had a taste for these tournaments we are going to come out swinging next year,” Ward said. “We found our stride in in-person competing and we are going to really flourish next year.”

Ward said that next season is the perfect time for newcomers to join the team because all of the current members are able to return next season with experience and strong leadership. 

“As a transfer student, the forensics team was a very fast community for me to join and make friends,” she said. “We are a team with a lot of growth and we hope to continue that next year.” 

The forensics team’s last event took place over the weekend with Erdman and Roeser representing the state of Wisconsin at the Interstate Oratory Contest at Butler University in Indianapolis.

“Only two students from each state are able to attend to compete with their persuasive oratories and we are thrilled that this year UWEC Forensics holds both of those slots,” Outzen said. 

Neither student placed at the Interstate Oratory tournament but Erdman, a third-year psychology and political science student, said the tournament was a great experience. 

“Being able to represent the state of Wisconsin was such an enriching experience,” Erdman said. “I was grateful to contribute to the legacy of previous UWEC forensics students who have competed at the national level.”

Mohr can be reached at [email protected]