After having 10 students compete in a school-record 22 events at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament in Alabama earlier this month, South Dakota State University’s forensics team finished 23rd of 58 teams.
Lauren Buisker, a senior from Volga, participated in her fourth AFA NIET and reached the quarterfinals in after-dinner speaking and impromptu speaking categories. She is the first Jackrabbit to reach that round since 2004. She also became the university’s second AFA NIET All-American in as many years. In 2018, Viraj Patel became SDSU’s first AFA NIET All-American since that program started in 2000.
“I’m really excited about our placing because our team is relatively young,” said Andrea Carlile, a lecturer in the School of Communication and Journalism and director of the forensics program. “I thought this could be the year when we made headway at nationals. It would have been nice to been in the top 20 but we came really close with a relatively young team. We don’t have the depth and experience that other teams have but found ways to be successful.”
Seven of the 10 Jackrabbits were competing in their first national tournament. Carlile said nearly every student contributed to the team’s point total.
“This group of students is really great about bringing to light the fun of the activity,” she said. “When you’re in a competitive event, there are times when you can get bogged down by focusing exclusively on the competition. While that’s obviously important, at the end of the day, that creates a tense team environment. This group has excitement and enthusiasm for what they get to do—that makes it much more fun.
“When they get into rounds and are successful, they’re able to have fun and be successful at what they’re doing,” Carlile continued. “When you combine that with seeing the promise of what we did with such a young cohort is really exciting. At the end of the day, our success at nationals, regardless if just one person advances to the elimination rounds, is built by a team of people. It was a cool moment to experience and watch their reactions and their support for teammates.”
First-year member Cameron Schroder, a junior from Huron, finished 45th in prose, which is the largest competition at nationals.
“It was exciting to see the effort she put into her performances this season be rewarded like that,” Carlile said.
In addition to Buisker and Schroder, South Dakota State’s other participants were:
- Nolan Bowers, Watertown;
- Joy Dahle, Sioux Falls;
- Jillian DeBoer, George, Iowa;
- Taylor Gilmore, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania;
- Benjamin Hummel, Brookings;
- Olivia Murray, Spearfish;
- Isabel Reyes, Mitchell; and
- Lars Wagener, Kasson, Minnesota.