K-State forensics team ranked 20th nationally after Arizona tournament


K-State’s forensics team placed 20th at the American Forensics Association’s National Individual Events Tournament at Arizona State University from April 4-7. Seven students traveled to the tournament, representing K-State’s highly ranked forensics team. They competed against 525 students in 1,573 events. The team has placed in the top 20 for 21 of the last 22 years.

“A lot of people think forensics is just forensic science where it’s dealing with dead bodies and solving crimes,” Darren Epping, instructor of communication studies and assistant director of forensics, said. “What we do is what’s described as competitive public speaking. It goes all the way back to old dead white guys, Aristotle and Socrates. Forensics means the study of proof, basically.”

Epping was awarded the AFA-NIET’s Young Coach of the Year award, an award based on peer nominations and given to coaches just beginning their careers. The award recognizes their prospective futures as well as their influence in past work.

“Darren and I were originally in college at the same time. He was a competitor at Hastings College in Nebraska and I was down here and we had a pretty close relationship with their school,” Adam Mason, senior in theater and forensics team member, said. “I had gotten to know Darren as a competitor and as time went on, I found out that he was back here at K-State as the assistant director of forensics. Again, another conduit for me to say maybe it’s about time for me to go back into college, and get back on the team.”

Mason said the team’s endless determination helps get them to nationals every year, but it also wouldn’t happen without the director of their coaching staff.

Mason was a national quarterfinalist in informative speaking, advancing to the final 24 out of a pool of more than 130 competitors. According to Epping, there are only four other colleges, besides K-State, that have been to this tournament every year since it was created.

“For me, this is an activity that a lot of people can get into and I wish more people would get into because it not only teaches you to be a fierce competitor, but it also lets you share in K-State’s success,” Mason said. “The majority of the student population isn’t going to be on the football team or the basketball team or the baseball team, but we open our doors to anybody who wants to give this a real effort.”

Davis Mattek, senior in creative writing, also traveled with the team to nationals, and was a national quarterfinalist. Out of 151 students, Mattek was in the top 12 in impromptu speaking.

“Impromptu is basically an event where you have seven minutes total and you’re given two quotations to choose from,” Mattek said. “You’re expected to give a two-point speech about some ideology that the quotation communicates. This was my last speech ever because I’m a senior, so I rapped in my speech which is not protocol.”

Mattek said he credits some of the team’s success to assistant coach Brock Ingmire, graduate student in communication studies.