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Forensics team wins 22nd consecutive state championship

February 24, 2014
Forensics-web

Front, from left: Dee Evans, Stephen Fong, Caitlyn Duley, Elijah Freeman, Sarah Doege, Nick Stamm, Louisa Strange, Taylor Turben. Back, from left: Ben Thompson Isaac, Jake Stendahl, Alex Brown, Jake Wrasse, Heidi Feyereisen

EAU CLAIRE —For the 22nd year in a row, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire forensics team earned the championship trophy at the Wisconsin State Forensics Tournament, held Feb. 14-15 at Ripon College.

Sophomore Elijah Freeman, Ladysmith, placed first in persuasion, which qualified him to represent the state of Wisconsin at the Interstate Oratory Contest in Harrisonburg, Va., in April.

"Our forensics program has a tremendous tradition of representing our state and our university at the Interstate Oratory Contest, and it is an honor for me to be the latest competitor to embody that legacy," Freeman said.

Sixteen UW-Eau Claire students finished in the top three in individual events, with several qualifying for the two national tournaments. For a full list of state championship results, visit the team's website.

"We have a young but very talented team this year," said Karen Morris, director of forensics. "The majority of the team are sophomores who have quickly adapted to be varsity members in their second year of competition."

So far this season, 13 students have qualified for the two national forensics competitions: the American Forensic Association (AFA) national tournament April 4-7, hosted by Arizona State University and the National Forensic Association (NFA) national tournament April 17-21, hosted by Eastern Michigan University.

Sophomore Jake Wrasse, Durand, qualified in impromptu, which is one of three events needed in order to advance to the AFA National Tournament.

"To be able to qualify in impromptu speaking for nationals in the first three tournaments of the year was a great predictor for the season," Wrasse said. "The team's momentum as well as my own has continued to build from that point."

UW-Eau Claire hosts two competitions during the spring semester, most recently the Grace Walsh Individual Events Tournament, held Feb. 9. Many alumni returned to campus to judge and meet the current team.

"Our alumni judges came from all over the country," Morris said. "We had alumni come judge who live right here in town, and we had those who flew in from Colorado, North Carolina and Boston. We also had alumni drive in from Milwaukee, Madison and Minneapolis."

The university also will host the district tournament March 7-8, which will be the last chance for students to qualify for the AFA national tournament.

Senior and team president Stephen Fong, Shorewood, is thrilled about the team's success this year as well as the strong UW-Eau Claire legacy.

"Forensics is more than becoming a public speaker," Fong said. "We have an incredibly supportive community, and joining this team has been one of the best decisions of my college career."

The team hopes to carry out its accomplishments through the national tournaments, where UW-Eau Claire has almost consistently been one of the top 10 teams in the nation.

"We have one of the proudest forensics traditions in the nation," Wrasse said. "The time spent working with coaches is not only about improving your academic and communicative skills, but also improving yourself as a critical thinker."

The UW-Eau Claire forensics team has competed in 10 tournaments so far this semester and has three more before nationals. For additional information, contact Karen Morris, director of forensics, at morriskr@uwec.edu or 715-836-3305.

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