Forensics team sweeps major titles

Mai Hoang

Members of Western’s forensic team couldn’t stop the tears when the results of the National Forensic Association tournament were announced.

Luckily, they were tears of joy.

Western took first place in the NFA tournament, held April 17-21 at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.

Courtney Smith, a junior from Downers Grove, Ill., said hugs were given when the announcement was made.

“There aren’t words to describe how beautiful it was,” she said.

Western’s forensic team placed first out of 85 colleges and universities. Teams from Bradley University, Eastern Michigan University and Illinois State University have captured all the NFA titles since 1976.

With a win at NFA, Western is the first university to win all major national and international forensic tournaments in one year. The team also placed first at the Delta Sigma Rho/Tau Kappa Alpha national tournament, the International Forensic Association tournament and the American Forensic Association national tournament.

Caleb Williams, a sophomore from Lewisville, Texas, placed fourth in the individual competition. He said the other teams were especially tough at NFA because they knew Western was on the brink of setting a new precedent in forensic competition.

“It was more of a dogfight than the other tournaments,” he said.

Smith said each major tournament was difficult because there was different competition for each one.

“You’ve got to prep yourself in a different way for each tournament,” she said. “You have to think about which will be there. Each tournament has a different tone because different teams are there.”

Team members agree that the wins this season were a group effort rather than the work of just a few.

“Being close to your team puts you far ahead of everyone else,” Smith said.

Although Williams placed fourth in the individual sweepstakes competition at NFA, he said the team is responsible for his success.

“I know there was no way that I could be close to that if it hadn’t been for the coaching staff pushing me and my teammates,” he said.

President Gary Ransdell said the team’s winning record has brought Western into a national spotlight.

“I think, in my opinion, this achievement of winning all three national tournaments and the international tournament, knowing that it has never been done in intercollegiate (competition) by a single university, is the most significant achievement that Western has attributed,” Ransdell said.

Although the season is over, the team will have most of the winners back next season. It will only be losing two seniors to graduation.

“We have a future to look forward to for this team,” Williams said.

Judy Woodring, the program director of forensics, refused to comment for this story.

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]