For the third straight year and for the sixth time in the last seven years, the Gustavus Adolphus College forensics team won the Minnesota State Collegiate Forensics Tournament on Feb. 15-16. The Gusties won the Team Sweepstakes by amassing 390 points as they took first place in seven of the 11 individual events. Minnesota State-Mankato placed second with 322 points, while Concordia College took third place with 265 points.
“Earning our third consecutive state championship and sixth in seven years is a testament to our students’ commitment to the preparation process, their drive to achieve excellence, and their ability to persevere,” Director of Forensics Kristofer Kracht said. “Winning a state championship in seven of the 11 events speaks to the quality of work and a standard our team has been committed to since August. Cadi Kadlecek, Associate Director of Forensics, and I are proud of the legacy this team is in the process of creating.”
Senior Kelsey Abele finished second in the individual sweepstakes as she placed fifth or better in five different events. Abele won both the Prose Interpretation and Program Oral Interpretation events. She also took second place in Impromptu Speaking, fourth place in Dramatic Interpretation, and fifth place in Duo Interpretation alongside teammate Wilson Fields.
Senior Shelby Wilds placed fourth in the individual sweepstakes as she won the Extemporaneous Speaking category and place second in After Dinner Speaking. Wilds also took fourth place in Informative Speaking and sixth place in Communication Analysis.
Junior Karin Nordin was the third Gustie to finish in the top five of the individual sweepstakes as she placed fifth. Nordin won the Impromptu Speaking event and added a pair of third place finishes in Poetry Interpretation and Dramatic Interpretation. Nordin placed sixth in Prose Interpretation and also teamed up with Fields to take fourth place in Duo Interpretation.
Junior Brittany Knutson won individual championships in both Communication Analysis and Informative Speaking, while adding a third place showing in Extemporaneous Speaking.
In addition to his results in Duo Interpretation, Fields placed second in Dramatic Interpretation and third in Prose Interpretation.
Other top results for the Gusties included junior Kate Spaulding’s first place finish in After Dinner Speaking, sophomore Kari Roll’s second place finish in Informative Speaking, sophomore Emily Meyer’s fifth place showing in Program Oral Interpretation and sixth place finish in Informative Speaking, and senior Sonja Johnson’s sixth place finish in Program Oral Interpretation.
“Overall, I believe the team performed very well. After a daunting week of practices, it is always exciting to see it pay off,” Abele said. “I think everyone on the team performed passionately and for a larger team goal.”
“I am extremely proud of the hard work, energy, and passion that went into the state tournament this year,” Knutson said. “Not only was the team excited about the tournament itself, but everyone was genuinely excited to prepare for the tournament and truly engaged in the conversations, revisions, and practice sessions necessary to get ready for a tournament of this caliber.”
The results from last weekend’s state tournament are similar to results the program has achieved all season long. In early October, the team hosted eight other programs from Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska for the Great Minnesota Get Together. The Gusties placed first in the team sweepstakes and earned six individual championships including Knutson in After Dinner Speaking, Spaulding in Impromptu Speaking, Wilds in Communication Analysis, Abele in Prose Interpretation, Nordin in Persuasive Speaking, and first-year student Jalen Gray in Dramatic Interpretation.
In mid-October the team competed against 20 other teams from six different states and still placed first at South Dakota State’s Jackrabbit Joust. Wilds won individual titles in Impromptu Speaking and Communication Analysis, Gray placed first in Dramatic Interpretation, while Spaulding won titles in Informative Speaking and Persuasive Speaking.
The team continued its hot streak in the month of October when it took first place once again at Minnesota State Mankato’s Larry Schnoor Invitational. Nordin won a pair of individual championships in Prose Interpretation and Persuasive Speaking, while Knutson took first place in Informative Speaking.
In early November the team had a chance to see how it stacked up against most of the best programs in the nation at Bradley University’s L.E. Norton Memorial Tournament. The team placed seventh out of 47 teams and finished ahead of many larger universities such as the University of Alabama and the University of Northern Iowa. Abele placed fourth in the individual sweepstakes at the tournament, becoming just the second Gustavus competitor in the program’s history to place in the individual sweepstakes.
In mid-January, the team traveled to the University of Texas at Austin at placed fifth out of 41 schools. For the first time in the history of the program, the team broke a competitor to the semifinals in every event. On day one of the tournament, Wilds placed second in Extemporaneous Speaking, while Abele took third in Dramatic Interpretation. On day two of the tournament, Nordin placed second in Persuasive Speaking and fourth in Poetry Interpretation, while Abele took third in Prose Interpretation and fourth in Communication Analysis.
“This season has been an absolute blast and the team chemistry is stellar,” Knutson said. “I think most of that stems from our focus on our goals at future tournaments. I have never been part of a team that is so synchronized. We all recognize the lofty goals before us, we all recognize the desire to achieve them, and we all recognize that they are only reachable if we all commit one hundred percent to the process.”
The team is now focused on achieving its best ever result at the American Forensic Association’s National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET), which will take place on April 5-7 at Arizona State University. The team placed eighth at the tournament last year and believes a top five finish is within reach this year.
“We remain committed to placing in the top five at the national tournament, and this team truly believes it will make history come April,” Kracht said. “This belief stems from their desire to influence every audience member to act, to think differently, and to learn something from every speech they produce.”
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