Omaha – With one national champion and a fifth-consecutive Top 10 ranking, the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) competitive speech team, MavForensics, is celebrating after a successful weekend at the American Forensics Association’s 2014 National Individual Events Tournament last week.
Led by the group’s sixth national champion in five years, QueenTara Pimentel, the small-but-mighty crew of 10 students placed eighth out of 83 programs.
“To have this quality of performance consistently over the last five years, when we have current seniors who weren’t even in the program when we earned our first top 10 finish, is just a huge credit to the quality of students we have at UNO,” said Abbie Syrek, head coach of MavForensics. “We are also consistently the smallest program each year in the Top 10, which is a testament to our students’ talent and dedication.”
Made up of individual competitions across 11 speaking events, each team earns their final placement by virtue of the combined scores of each performance, which provides an inherent advantage to teams like this year’s first-place Western Kentucky, who fielded nearly triple the number of students at 27.
This year UNO had all three of its seniors advance to finals, including Pimentel, who won her national championship in Poetry Interpretation, as well as Cole Evans and Traelon Graham, who tied for first in Duo Interpretation but lost a tie breaker and ultimately finished second.
Graham and Pimentel also placed in the competition’s individual sweepstakes, which requires a student to compete in four speaking events to be eligible for the 20 awards handed out. Pimentel placed seventh while Graham placed 13th.
The rest of the team, made up of three juniors, one sophomore and three freshmen, made it to several quarterfinal and semifinal events. The final rankings for UNO students in the competition included:
QueenTara Pimentel: First in Poetry; semi-finals in Prose Interpretation and quarter-finals in After-Dinner Speaking
Traelon Graham: First (tie) in Duo Interpretation with Cole Evans; quarter-finals in Poetry Interpretation, quarter-finals in Prose Interpretation and quarter-finals in Informative Speaking
Cole Evans: First (tie) in Duo Interpretation with Traelon Graham, quarter-finals in Informative Speaking
Karlee Currin: Semi-finals in Informative Speaking; quarter-finals in Duo Interpretation (with Abbie Herbert)
Catie Zaleksi: Quarter-finals in Poetry Interpretation
This year’s competition was held Friday, April 4, through Monday, April 7, at Arizona State University.
The final top 10 standings for this year were:
First – Western Kentucky
Second – Bradley University
Third – University of Texas at Austin
Fourth – Illinois State University
Fifth – George Mason University
Sixth – Gustavus Adolphus College
Seventh – University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Eighth – University of Nebraska at Omaha
Ninth – University of Alabama
10th – University of Northern Iowa
For more information, please contact Charley Reed, UNO media relations coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 402.554.2129.
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