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News Archives - 2005

February 28, 2005


From left: Francis Rojas, Brian Mumford, Ryan Sobolik, and Eric Helgeson.

Augsburg College’s Speech Team continued their successful season last weekend by placing among the top teams in the State. Augsburg earned the 2nd place sweepstakes award at the Minnesota College Forensic Association’s annual State Tournament in their division. The tournament was held February 19 and 20, at Bethel College, in Arden Hills, Minnesota.

Minnesota’s State tournament contains some of the toughest competition in the country, because many Minnesota teams routinely place in the top 20 nationally. “This may be the team’s most successful year yet,” said coach and Communication Studies Associate Professor Bob Groven, “Our students have won awards at almost every tournament they attended this year, and routinely beat some of the best competitors in the country. After placing 2nd at Nationals last year in our division, it’s nice to continue building our success.” According to assistant coach, Brad Christ, Augsburg’s Speech Team has already amassed 22 finalist trophies this year, with several tournaments still left in the 2004-2005 season.

The tournament included hundreds of students, from 16 colleges and universities around the state. Speech tournaments do not divide events by NCAA Divisions for individual award, so small colleges, such as Augsburg, compete against large university campuses, such as the University of Minnesota, or Minnesota State University at Mankato. For team sweepstakes, awards were divided into two broad categories for very large teams and smaller teams.

Ryan Sobolik, took top honors by taking 2nd place in Impromptu Speaking and 5th place in Communication Analysis in the State of Minnesota. Ryan, a senior from Fargo, North Dakota, led the team’s sweepstakes effort by besting dozens other students for the right to compete in these final rounds. Ryan has won top awards at almost every tournament he has attended this year.

Ryan’s success comes after of three years of hard work. “It took me a while to get the hang of Impromptu,” said Sobolik, “It’s tough because you don’t know the topic beforehand, and you only have two minutes to prepare your speech.”

Erik Helgeson placed 6th in the State in After Dinner Speaking. The event requires students to give a funny speech about a serious topic. Helgeson’s speech highlights the ways that “free speech zones” have been abused to limit protestor’s free speech rights. After working extensively in radio, he feels a special connection to the topic, “I really believe that everyone should be allowed to voice their opinion, even if those in power don’t always want to hear the message. It’s important that we preserve everyone’s right to protest.”

The State Tournament only focuses on attention on the awards Augsburg’s Speech Team has been winning all year. Only two weeks earlier, freshman Brian Mumford took 1st Place in Extemporaneous Speaking, and Ryan Sobolik placed 3rd in Impromptu Speaking and 4th in Communication Analysis. Teammates Francis Rojas, Heather Nystrom, Caitlin Shaeffer and Gretchen Hemmingsen have been contributing sweepstakes fine performances and sweepstakes points all season.

College speech tournaments hold competition in 11 recognized events, and two debate categories. These events range from presenting dramatic monologues and persuasive political topics, to impromptu speeches given with only a few minutes of preparation time. At any given tournament, all eleven events are run together, like in a track tournament. The events are staggered over two days or more. A typical college speech tournament takes most of two days, ending with a series of final rounds in which the top six competitors face off against one another.

Augsburg’s Speech Team is open to any Augsburg student, with or without prior speech or debate experience. Whole team practices occur on Tuesday nights at 7:00pm, in Foss 175. Various group practices occur on Thursdays, and weekly individual coaching times are scheduled all through the week. Students may participate in as many or few tournaments as they choose. For more information contact, Bob Groven at extension 612-330-1547.