Seven members took home first-place trophies in individual divisions
For the seniors in forensics team, February 19 marked their third time being on the state champion team. This tournament placement sets up Gustavus to defend its position in the top ten at nationals.
Gustavus is currently the only non-D1 school in the top ten. Last week at Bethel University all three of the forensics seniors, Chloe Radcliffe, Luke Youngvorst and Sam Hemmerich, took home first place in at least one category.
“As a first-year, the best thing about this tournament was watching every single senior win a state championship,” First-year forensic member Karin Nordin said. “I know the whole team was extremely happy (in fact, most of us were crying).” Radcliffe took first in individual sweepstakes.
”Chloe’s performance wasn’t surprising, but it certainly needs to be mentioned,” Forensics coach Kristofer Kracht said.
Hemmerich was the first state poetry champion to come from Gustavus. Youngvorst placed second in persuasion, which qualified him to be one of two students representing Minnesota in the Interstate Oratorical Association National Tournament.
However forensics championships aren’t won by individual success, but the combined success of the team.
“Without our team unity we would crumble in a heartbeat. It’s because of each person on the team, and what they bring to the table, that makes this program so successful,” Youngvorst said. The overall team score is the combined performance scores of each individual.
The Gustavus forensics team had top performers in every grade level, including two first-years, Brady Mueller and Karin Nordin, winning first place in their category.
“This year our team has both breadth and depth. We have excellent competitors in every single category, and we have a lot of them,” Radcliffe said. Shelby Wilds and Kelsey Abele were also champions in their category.
After placing second in state in 2011, the forensics team has worked especially hard this year to constantly improve their performances. Although the team has the goal to place in the top five nationally, something a school of Gustavus’ size hasn’t done in 12 years, the focus has been much more process-based.
“I told the students I’m not worried about winning itself, I’m worried about the process it takes to win,” Kracht said.
Youngvorst attributes the success of the team on the hard work they continually put into their performances.
“We would not have done as well as we have this year without the dedication from each and every person on the team,” Youngvorst said.
According to Kracht, the team’s success is due to a strong legacy of Gustavus forensics. The team holds a Summer Speech Institute at Gustavus for high school students and four of this year’s state champions once attended this summer camp. Gustavus also hosts tournaments all over the country, which, in part, led to over ten different states being represented on the team.
Thinking about the next generation doesn’t stop at recruitment. Alumni support the team financially and through Skype or guest coaching. The seniors choose practice goals for the team to adhere to. To prepare for the state tournament, each team member had a coach, upperclassman and lowerclassman watch their event to offer critique.
“The seniors know that legacy won’t be defined by the number of trophies, but by how they mentor the next generation, and they won’t really find out how they did until about three years from now,” Kracht said.