The Gustavus Forensics Team won its third consecutive state championship Feb. 15-16 at the Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association (MCFA), making it the sixth state championship the team has won in seven years.
In addition to the team’s overall championship wins, several individual members contributed big wins across a wide range of competitive categories.
Senior Kelsey Abele took second in the Individual Sweepstakes, while Senior Shelby Wilds placed fourth, and Junior Karin Nordin placed fifth.
Abele won both the Prose Interpretation and Program Oral Interpretation events, placed second in Impromptu Speaking, took fourth place in Dramatic Interpretation, and finished fifth place in Duo Interpretation teamed with sophomore Wilson Fields.
Wilds won the Extemporaneous Speaking category and finished second in After Dinner Speaking. She also placed fourth in Informative Speaking and sixth in Communication Analysiss.
Nordin won the Impromptu Speaking event, placed third in both Poetry and Interpretation and Dramatic Interpretation, and took sixth in Prose Interpretation. Nordin also teamed with Fields to take fourth place in Duo Interpretation.
For all top team results, please see the box to the right.
Director of Forensics Kris Kracht regards the recent triumphs highly.
“The accomplishments are significant in that our students really have committed to excellence that they want, and for them it’s not so much about the result they get. The trophy is the byproduct developed by hard work,” Kracht said.
Kracht attributes the success to the education the students received at Gustavus.
“The competitive success is the byproduct of the educational process that’s put in place. They make our students better thinkers, better writers and better researchers, [which translates into] better performers, better speakers,” Kracht said.
Being a part of Gustavus forensics team means excellence and commitment. According to Kracht, the student members usually spend between 15 and 20 hours every week in practice. Practices may take many different forms, including peer coaching, individual research, revision and etc.
Students also travel all over the United States on weekends to compete. On a two-day tournament, they have a very tight schedule. Starting at 8 a.m. and finishing at 7 p.m., a tournament usually has two or three preliminary rounds and a final round.
Though the competitive nature and long hours seem intimidating to some, Abele highlights the advantages of her experience. She notes that her tenure on the team has enabled her to gain skills she cannot find anywhere else. Like many members, Abele started her forensics career in high school, was drawn here by the solid forensics program offered by Gustavus, and has found her niche on the team.
“Each event teaches you a different thing. In Interpretation events, it’s empathy. I like to think of ways other people perceive situations and how I, as an individual, can better adapt to that. The public address event has taught me to make sure that I create a concise argument with very specific information. Limited preparation events have taught me to think on my feet,” Abele said.
Though the forensics team gets regular recognition nationwide, Kracht commented that the team is less visible compared to sports teams on campus.
“In some ways, I do think the speech team is one of the best-kept secrets on campus. People see what we do, but they don’t really know or understand what we do, simply because we do travel a lot. It goes unnoticed or unrecognized not intentionally, but unintentionally,” Kracht said.
Abele agreed that frequent travel is a cause of the lack of visibility, but she also reflected on her own visibility as a team member.
“Sometimes it’s hard for us to get out of our little bubble too,” Abele said.
She notes that the team’s practice location, Beck Room 305, also makes them harder to find.
“Our headquarters is kind of an isolated roof room in Beck. If people are interested and wondering what we do, drop by, say hi, and knock at the door. Typically, we’ll talk to you. We like to talk,” Abele said.
Kracht and Abele encourage people to attend their showcase in the spring.
“I think they’ll be blown away by the work these students put in, blown away by the performances they have crafted. It truly will make you change minds, to make you think differently and act differently,” Kracht said.