Skip to main content

ASU forensics team repeats its top 10 status

May 07, 2008

The ASU forensics team finished sixth out of 88 U.S. schools at the National Forensics Association Championships Tournament held in April in Nashville, Tenn. Fifteen undergraduate team members competed in at least three events, each being qualified throughout the year at regular season tournaments.

With more than 500 students competing in the national tournament, ASU had the following placements:

• Julia Kolsrud, a senior majoring in political science, was the national runner-up (second place) in dramatic interpretation, semifinalist in prose interpretation.

• Andy Stone, a sophomore majoring in communication, was the national runner-up (second place) in after dinner speaking.

• Jose Magana, a senior majoring in communication and business, placed third in informative speaking, and was a semifinalist in communication analysis, poetry interpretation and extemporaneous speaking.

• Sara Cho, a senior majoring in drawing, earned 13th place in rhetorical criticism.

• Eric Dern, a freshman majoring in film studies, received 14th place in after dinner speaking.

• Andrew Kersh, a freshman majoring in communication, earned 16th place in dramatic interpretation.

ASU Forensics is the oldest student organization at ASU, dating back to 1885. The team has been in the top 10 since 1992 at national tournaments held by the American Forensics Association and National Forensics Association.

“We have maintained a strong history of success. The speech team has grown in response to the number and quality of the coaches we have accrued. Last year, we took third at the national tournament, largely due to the coaching staff and an amazing senior class. So our goal is always to stay in the top 10, and so far, we have met that goal,” says Michael Graupmann, director of forensics and lecturer in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

ASU Forensics has won the International Forensic Tournament four times and the Interstate Oratory Contest – the oldest speaking contest in the country dating back to 1879 – three times since 1990.

“Forensics prepares students in critical thinking and presentation as well as competitive skills in addition to team work,” says Clark Olson, director of forensics from 1984 to 1999 and instructional professional in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. “It is one of the most decorated programs on campus, winning well over 300 awards annually and having won most of the major invitational tournaments throughout the West.”

To prepare for competition, students meet weekly with coaches for individual practice and improvement. The goal for students is to learn how to confidently present ideas and themselves, and think critically about the world. The team travels on weekends to campuses around the country to compete.

Students involved in ASU Forensics represent a variety of majors across the Tempe campus.

“The forensics team is consistently turning out top-ranked and highly-qualified competitors. These students are some of the brightest thinkers and performers that our campus has to offer, and they spread their knowledge across the country by proudly representing ASU every weekend,” Graupmann says.

“Every year has its own unique challenges, and every team has to adapt to the styles and trends of what the nation is looking for. We are constantly bringing in new ideas and adapting them into our speeches so they can improve and grow to become the best final product possible,” says Graupmann.

ASU Forensics has helped pave the way for innovation in many of the interpretation and public speaking events that take place at the national tournament. For example one of the events, after dinner speaking, has changed significantly from just a speech to entertain and educate. Now the team promotes advocacy and community involvement through integrated and personalized solutions. Not only has this refreshed the activity, but it has brought about a great deal of change to college campuses and communities nationwide.

In addition to competing, each year the program co-hosts a two-day college tournament with Glendale Community College in February for interested college teams around the nation.

The program also hosts the sixth largest high school tournament in the country each January. The ASU Southwest Championships Tournament brings more than 1,500 high school students to the Tempe campus during the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend for national level competition in a collegiate atmosphere.

More information at