MCC Forensics team kicks off season

February 10, 2023

Lucy O’Hara, left, and Sophia Edmondson practice their “duo” presentation.

MCC Forensics team kicks off season

Spartan News is a presentation of Mason County Central School District in partnership with Mason County Press.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

SCOTTVILLE — Mason County Central High School’s state-ranked forensics team begins its season Saturday, Feb. 11 at an invitational at Birch Run High School.

Forensics competition is a contest between individuals and ensembles that compete in various categories to improve speaking skills in front of an audience.

Hunter Orhling works on his presentation

MCC’s program was started in 1989 and is the only forensics program in the Western Michigan Conference. As a result, the team has to travel extensively to compete. 

This year’s team includes 24 students, up from last year’s 15. Only seven of the team members are returning students.

“We saw a decrease in numbers during and immediately following the COVID pandemic,” head coach Tom Richert said. “Our team is a rather young team this year but we have students with a lot of potential.” 

Richert said this is the first year that students involved in winter sports are being allowed to compete. 

“Our season runs longer than the winter sports season,” Richert said. “The student athletes practice with us when they can and then will compete once their athletic season is finished, which should be in March. This is offering a lot more opportunity to students who have had to chose one activity over another in the past. Both are great life lessons and beneficial for students as they move beyond high school.” 

In 2021, the team placed second overall in the state. In 2022, it placed third overall. Richert said he believes the team has potential to once again rank high in a state competition. 

Among the returning students is senior Hunter Ohrling. Ohrling competed his freshman year but then did not return his sophomore or junior years, choosing to play baseball instead. 

“I didn’t like that the tournaments were virtual only,” he said. “I prefer to compete in person. It’s a much better experience.” 

Ohrling performs in the Informative category. 

“I have to pick a topic and create a presentation on that topic,” he said. His topic is spy planes. 

Coach Richert provides construction criticism to a student.

“I am very interested in U.S. spy planes such as the U2 and SR-71.”

His presentation is over seven minutes and six pages of information and also includes visuals. 

Junior Sophia Edmondson is also a returning team member. She has been involved with forensics since eighth grade, competing then on the middle school team. 

Edmondson competes in the Duo category, which is a two-person 10 minute presentation on a select subject like a book or a play. In 2022, Edmondson and her previous partner, Lily Stone (who graduated in 2022), won third place in their category in the state. 

This year her partner is freshman Lucy O’Hara. 

“For both of us, a lot of our friends are in forensics,” Edmondson said. “It’s a great opportunity to learn public speaking and performance skills.” 

Richert said team members practice every day after school and then competes every weekend through the end of April.

“The team members are dedicated to competing and improving,” Richert said. “We have high standards in this program. We are a small school that often competes against schools that are twice as big but we are often considered one of the toughest teams to compete against. That’s something we can be very proud of.” 

While the team gets support from the school district, it’s always in need of additional funds, to help off-set clothing/costume expenses along with travel expenses. 

Anyone wishing to donate, may send a check to Mason County Central Schools, 300 W. Broadway, Scottville, MI 49454, with “forensics” written in the memo. 

This year’s schedule is as follows: 

  • Feb. 11: Birch Run Invitational, Birch Run High School
  • Feb. 18: Spartan Invitational, Michigan State University
  • Feb. 25: Alma Invitational, Alma High School
  • March 4: Grand Rapids Christian Invitational, Grand Rapids Christian High School
  • March 11: Portage Northern Invitational, Portage Northern High School
  • March 18: Walled Lake Western High School
  • April: Regionals, including state championship on April 28 and 29. 

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