Forensic team members Rachel Criswell, freshman early childhood education major, and Alicia Meyer, freshman communication arts major, wrapped up their season by bringing home multiple national titles at the National Christian College Forensics Tournament at California Baptist University, which took place March 8 to 10.
At the tournament, Criswell won first place in novice After Dinner Speaking, a humorous speech given on a meaningful topic, and second place in novice Program Oral Interpretation, a presentation given from a combination of different literature sources on a unified theme.
Meyer won first place in both novice Faith Literature, a thematic presentation of multiple characters based on different sources of literature, and novice Communication Analysis, an original speech researched and written by the student.
Together, the women took second place in novice Duo Interpretation, a presentation that combines the use of literature and interactive characters to give a message.
“Usually you take seven pieces and hope one of them breaks to finals,” said Ann Lawson, director of forensics and instructor of communication arts, who traveled to the tournament with Criswell and Meyer. “For the women to take seven pieces and bring home trophies in five is kind of a big deal.”
This season’s success surpassed Lawson’s expectations.
“I didn’t have high hopes for the year, actually, because we were starting from scratch,” Lawson said. “I had one returner and that was it. It was quite a surprise that we ended up with three national championships and two second places when we started the year as a rebuilding year.”
As freshmen, this was both Criswell and Meyer’s first year competing in collegiate forensics.
Criswell had some prior experience competing in high school forensics, but in preparation for the season, Criswell realized there were differences between high school and collegiate forensics she did not understand.
“I actually stayed after class one night and pulled Ann aside,” Criswell said. “We sat down and talked it out, and she really helped me with my speeches. She was so patient.”
Although Meyer’s inspiration to get involved with forensics started in high school, this was a completely new experience for her.
“Back in high school my sophomore English teacher got me interested,” Meyer said. “My teacher said ‘I think forensics would be for you.’ She inspired me.”
Next year Criswell and Meyer will compete in the open category as opposed to the novice category, which is specifically for first year forensic competitors. This will increase the amount of experience their competitors will have, but Criswell and Meyer’s hard work will keep them in the mix.
“I do think it [their success at nationals] is a testimony to the effort and time they put into this,” Lawson said. “Both are eager and willing to grow and to learn to make changes to get better. That gives me great hope for the future.”
Students of any major are invited to join next year’s forensics team and must enroll in SPCH 240 to participate.
Sarah Meek is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.