Speech and debate tournaments before Thanksgiving gave Hillsdale College’s teams much for which to be thankful.
Both teams brought home first place awards from the Falcon Classic at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. With separate events offering students more opportunities to compete, Hillsdale’s debate team competed in separate tournaments Nov. 19 and 20, while speech competed on Nov. 19 only.
The speech team’s junior Mary Blendermann took first place for an informative speech on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, a procedure that treats depression. She earned straight ones in the preliminary and final rounds because every judge rated Blendermann’s speech as the best in the round.
“Earning straight ones is a rare accomplishment known to the forensics community as ‘picket fencing’ because a bunch of ones in a row look like a picket fence,” Blendermann said.
She received a standing ovation at the awards ceremony, an honor reserved for first place only.
Speech coach Matthew Warner said Blendermann had an outstanding performance.
“Not only did she win, but she crushed the competition,” Warner said.
At some point during Saturday night, the speech team was poised to win six events with student finalists in each, but speakers didn’t advance in the later rounds. Blendermann was a finalist in informative in first place, impromptu in second, and program of oral interpretation in second. Junior Steven Custer broke into the finals in communication/rhetorical analysis in second place and persuasive speaking in fifth. Sophomore Peter Seeley took fifth place in radio broadcasting.
The speech team next competes at a home tournament on Hillsdale’s campus Saturday at 8 a.m. in Lane Hall. Finals should begin around 3 p.m.
The debate team dominated the Nov. 20 tournament with a first place finish, after senior Graham Deese and junior Duncan Voyles took second place the first day.
The debate team had eight freshmen compete along with two upperclassmen in Parliamentary debate at the tournaments. Rowan MacWan and Henrey Deese qualified for the semifinals in the Nov. 19 tournament. Three other Hillsdale pairs went 3 – 1, but didn’t advance in the tournament on the first day.
On Nov. 20, in a Hillsdale matchup, Joel Meng and Henrey Deese forfeited to MacWan and Brigid Majmudan, who then took second place, yielding to the upperclassman duo of Graham Deese and Voyles.
Debate coach Matthew Doggett said students from the same team don’t compete against each other to prevent unwanted rivalries. Such an instance is called a “walkover.”
Doggett said he was happy with both the speech and debate teams’ performances.
“Everyone had something to point to that was successful,” he said.