P O W E L L, W y o. - Students on the Northwest College Forensics Team rewrote the record book this fall by scooping up the gold sweepstakes championships at all three tournaments they've attended. The triple crown is in the bag, but if funding allows, they'll go for a 4-0 record by attending one more tournament in December. This week, they'll compete individually but not as a team at their own Trapper Rendezvous Speech Meet Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10 & 11.
With a balanced squad of 10 freshman and 12 sophomore orators, NWC is raking in championship honors. The team's gold rush started at the Top of the Rockies Tournament, Sept. 15-17, at the University of Wyoming where it took first in overall sweepstakes among community colleges and fourth overall behind Rice University from Houston, Texas; Washburn University from Topeka, Kan;. and Carroll College from Helena, Mont.
The NWC orators raised the bar at their next competition, the Pioneer Trails Tournament, Oct. 13-14 at Casper College, by claiming the overall sweepstakes from all 14 colleges and universities attending.
The team continued its gold streak Oct. 27-29 at Colorado College's James "Al" Johnson Invitational where 40 schools vied for top honors. NWC finished first among community colleges, first in individual events sweepstakes (includes both two- and four-year schools) and second overall behind Western Kentucky University.
The defining moment will come Dec. 2 and 3 if the team can raise enough money to attend the Outer Limits Swing Tournament hosted by the University of Nebraska-Kearning.
Duane Fish, one of the forensics co-directors, said the team is pumped for one more competition after their home meet, but, "We may not be able to attend the Nebraska meet because of funds. We have such a large team, and costs are killing us."
The team's success is due in large part to the three NWC faculty who coach, educate, travel and motivate each team member. They are, in addition to Fish, Robert Becker and Jeannie Hunt, who, despite the personal sacrifice required to field a successful team, all point to the students as the reason for the unprecedented season.
"We're accustomed to bringing home a couple championships each semester," Becker said, "but this year's team definitely has the right chemistry. We could take them to 10 tournaments, and I think they'd be in the final championship circle at every one."
Hunt credits the students' work ethic for the difference between a good team and an extraordinary one, "Forensics students always have to work hard and put in a lot of extra time to be competitive on the college circuit," she said. "The right combination of talent and timing is incredibly important, but without a willingness by each person on the team to go the extra mile, there's no way we'd have as many gold trophies stacked up in the practice room."
Northwest's individual events performers contributed mightily to its Top of the Rockies finish. Tracy Hill of Casper and Grant Langdon of Powell took first place in duet interpretation. Langdon paired up with Brett Delaney of Casper for a repeat finish in dramatic interpretation. Delaney and Bryce Cornatzer of Tacoma, Wash., took sixth and fifth, respectively, in after dinner speaking. In poetry interpretation, the sixth and fourth place awards went to Langdon and Chelsea Hampton, a Cody High School graduate who now calls Greybull home. Langdon took second and Cornatzer 12th in prose interpretation.
The junior division debate team of Delaney and Jared Bressler (also of Casper) turned heads with a second place finish in a pool of 41 teams, beating debaters from William Jewell College and Carroll College before dropping to a University of Montana team in the final round. Cody's Nolan Goubeaux and Tim Hansen of Powell placed eighth in the same division. Hill and Zack Eckerdt of Powell advanced to the double-octafinal round before losing to a team from Texas Tech University. Delaney and Bressler were named 11th and 12th debate speakers out of 82 competitors.
At the Pioneer Trails Tournament, individual first place awards were earned by Langdon in dramatic interpretation, by Cornatzer in prose interpretation and by the Hill/Langdon team in duet interpretation.
NWC's novice parliamentary debaters Goubeaux and Hansen claimed the first two speaker awards, respectively, out of 40 contestants. They placed third as a team, losing in quarterfinals to Rocky Mountain College of Billings, Mont. Three junior division parliamentary debate teams (Bressler/Caiti Barski of Powell, Bressler/Delaney, Barski/Sara Holwegner of Casper) collectively tied for first in their division. Collectively, the team brought home 15 awards for individuals and teams who placed in the top eight in their divisions.
With teams from 40 schools in the fray at the James "Al" Johnson Invitational, Cornatzer came out on top in after dinner speaking and was named top junior competitor in the event. He added to that a second in dramatic interpretation. Goubeaux was named the top junior competitor in persuasive speaking and finished fourth overall. The Delaney/Langdon team topped the field in duet interpretation. Hampton picked up fifth in poetry and third in program oral interpretation.
Langdon added a second in poetry and a sixth in dramatic interpretation. Barski claimed fourth in program oral interpretation. Delaney took second in after dinner speaking and fifth in dramatic interpretation. Hill matched that with fifth in after dinner speaking. In duet interpretation, the Langdon/Hill team placed second and Hampton/Barski took fifth. In novice parliamentary debate, speaker awards went to Barski -11th, Hampton - 16th, and Goubeaux - 20th.