Keeping up the legacy of speech success

Photo Courtesy of Abbie Syrek
Photo Courtesy of Abbie Syrek

Kelsey Johnson

The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s speech team, MavForensics, is a small group comprised of 15 students this year. Of those 15, eight are freshman.

“Our ‘fab freshman’ are doing an amazing job,” said Abbie Syrek, director of MavForensics. “They have all qualified several speaking events for nationals and represent UNO every weekend by winning regional speaking awards.”

MavForensics most recently finished second at an elite national-level tournament in Austin, Texas called Hell Froze Over.

For the second consecutive year, MavForensics had an award winning showing at the prestigious tournament. The tournament is arguably the most difficult regular season competition of the year. The team managed its highest finish ever, taking second place on Saturday, Sunday and over-all for the weekend.

The team was led by senior Catie Zaleski. She tied for top overall speaker in Saturday’s competition, and was the champion of Poetry Interpretation.

Freshman Abby Hoffman placed fifth overall speaker on Saturday, and was the champion in Prose Interpretation for both Saturday and Sunday’s competition. Junior Abbie Herbert made finals in both Dramatic Interpretation and Prose Interpretation over the weekend, while Freshman Ameres Groves joined Hoffman in Duo Interpretation finals.

“Joining the Forensics team has been a dream-like experience for me,” Groves said. “I never imagined being surrounded by so many motivated and talented people. I feel honored and blessed to be a part of this team.”
In the same weekend, a hand-ful of students made the trip to Seward, Nebraska for the Sleet and Snow invitational. At this competition, freshman Abbie Perry took first place in communication analysis, sophomore Dylan Morris took first place in Informative Speaking and freshman Emilee Sloan took first place in Persuasive Speaking.

On Feb. 13, the team heads to state competition, hosted at Doane College. With several of the top 20 programs in the country residing in Nebraska-Hastings College, Doane College and UNL- the state competition will be one of the most challenging of the year.

The last weekend in February, the team will co-host a competition with University of Nebraska– Lincoln called The Battle for the Capitol. Teams from across the Midwest will attend this competition as one of the last regular-season invitational tournaments of year.

As the last competition of the year, the forensics team will attend the American Forensics Association-National Individual Events Tournament on March 31 in Gainesville, Florida. All 15 students have
already qualified for 45 different speaking events with the possibility to qualify for more before the season is over.

All around, it has been a sea-son to remember for MavForensics, who look to carry this momentum into the home stretch of the season. With the State Championship determined in February and the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament held in late March.

“This journey has sharpened my abilities for my voice to be heard in this world,” Groves said.
He and the other seven freshmen have a lot to look forward to in the remainder of this season, as well as in the next three years.

This young, talented bunch has seen a lot of success so far this season, and with three large competitions left ahead there is sure to be more success on the horizon.


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