Forensics Team Enjoying Continued Success

Posted on January 8th, 2009 by

Members of the Gustavus forensics team after a recent tournament.

Members of the Gustavus forensics team after a recent tournament.

The Gustavus forensics team has concluded a busy and successful first half of the season as it continues to assert itself as one of the top programs in the country.

Fresh off back-to-back years of being ranked in the top 20 of the American Forensic Association’s (AFA) rankings, this year’s team has traveled as far as Brookings, S.D., and Peoria, Ill., to compete in various tournaments against some of nation’s best teams. So far this season they have qualified 22 events for the AFA’s National Individual Events Tournament (NIET), won three first place team sweepstakes trophies, as well as more than 200 individual trophies.

On Nov. 8-9, Bradley University hosted its prestigious 61st annual L. E. Norton Tournament. Gustavus placed 12th out of 46 teams, many of which were ranked in the AFA’s top 20 last year. Senior team member Kavan Rogness said that the 12th place finish showed the depth of this year’s team.

“It’s a benchmark tournament that will help us assess where we are now and where we need to be in the coming months,” Rogness said. “All in all, it was a highly successful tournament.”

First-year student Chloe Goldade had the best individual result with a first place finish in the Novice Prose Interpretation event. In the Novice Impromptu Speaking event, sophomore Briana Clark placed fifth and freshman Lucas Youngvorst placed sixth.

Rogness and first-year student Sam Hemmerich also placed sixth in their respective events — Rogness in Open Poetry Interpretation and Hemmerich in Novice Drama Interpretation. First-year student Chloe Radcliffe was a semifinalist in the Open Prose event.

Earlier in the season, the Gustavus team traveled south a few miles to take part in Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Larry Schnoor Invitational on Oct. 18. Gustavus was able to take first place honors in the team sweepstakes by beating out several successful programs including Illinois State University, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Ohio University.

Goldade and Radcliffe had very successful tournaments as Goldade placed second in After Dinner Speaking, while Radcliffe took second in Dramatic Interpretation. The two first-year students then combined to take fifth place in Duo Interpretation.

Other top performers included junior C.J. Hunt who took third place in After Dinner Speaking and fourth place in Prose Interpretation. Rogness placed third in Dramatic Interpretation, sophomore Phil Helt took fourth in Communication Analysis, and senior Brittani Seagren placed fourth in Impromptu Speaking.

Senior Maria Siegle earned fifth place in Extemporaneous Speaking, sophomore Austin Lafferty placed sixth in Informative Speaking, and sophomore Eric Cronin took sixth place in After Dinner Speaking.

Other team members who have experienced success at other tournaments include first-year students Katie Asfeld, Allegra Birdseye and Mary Cooley, sophomore Claire Sagstuen, and junior Sean Maertens.

The team has no tournaments scheduled from Dec. 8 through Jan. 17. The time off from competition has given the team some time to polish their events, which should prove to be crucial when the team encounters an extremely busy tournament schedule during the latter part of January and through February and March.

“The break gave us time to rest from school and speech, something I needed and others probably did as well,” Rogness said. “It also gave me the chance to reassess where I’m at with my speeches and where I need to go to not only help myself, but also to see what I need to do to help the team’s success.”

During the College’s January Interim Experience, a majority of team members are taking a forensics class taught by forensics head coach and communication studies instructor Kristofer Kracht. It’s another chance for team members to improve their speeches and grow as a team.

“In class there is a lot of general preparation like peer coaching, performances, cutting speeches, and memorizing,” Hunt said. “Additionally, this year professor Kracht is having us read some articles from forensic studies as well as a book about the mental part of competition.”

Another factor that has bolstered the performance of this year’s team is the presence of a talented first-year class.

“We have an outstanding first-year class as well as a sophomore transfer student,” Hunt said. “They have fit right in and have contributed immensely to the team’s success and they will continue to ensure a quality program in the future.”

Key tournaments for the team in the coming months include the following:

  • Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association Minnesota State Tournament / Feb. 21-22 / South Central College, Mankato, Minn.
  • AFA-NIET District IV Qualifying Tournament / March 13-14 / Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn.
  • Phi Delta Kappa National Tournament / March 18-21 / Louisiana State University-Shreveport, Shreveport, La.
  • AFA-NIET National Tournament / April 4-6 / University of Akron, Akron, Ohio
  • 137th Interstate Oratorical Association National Contest / April 24-25 / Oxfort, Miss.

For more information about the Gustavus forensics program, contact Kracht at 507-933-7486 or More information is also available on the team’s website at


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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