Lake-effect snow and two 10-hour car rides left the debate team exhausted, after beating Ivy League competitors in its first British Parliamentary tournament.
While the forensics team took home five awards at the Bowling Green State University Invitational Saturday and Sunday, debate team members transformed Hillsdale College’s British Parliamentary Club, which started last semester, into a competitive team at Cornell University’s British Parliamentary tournament.
British Parliamentary debate is different from the team’s usual one-on-one and two-on-two debates, because it pits four teams against each other every round. The debate topic is affirmed by the first team, rejected by the second, supported again by the third, and finally rejected by the last pair.
Freshman Joel Meng outshined the competition, breaking into the finals in the novice division and placing in the top four of 84 teams. Because of a mix-up in Hillsdale’s lineup, Meng was paired with a student from Patrick Henry, but the two worked together to see the final round of the competition. Doggett said he was impressed with the team’s performance, especially Meng’s.
“He’s brilliant, he’s laid-back; there’s that ‘it’ quality about Joel,” Doggett said. “He walks into a room and judges want to believe him. Every format we’ve been into, he’s broken to semifinals or further. It’s just absolutely incredible.”
Along with Meng, freshmen Henrey Deese and Rowan Macwan also made progress at the novice level, reaching the quarterfinals. Sophomore Matthew Kendrick returned to the team for the first time this year, breaking to the semifinals with the help of his brother, Kyle, a sophomore at King’s College.
Senior Graham Deese and junior Duncan Voyles did not make it far in the open round, because of low scores in early rounds, but the team credited Voyles for leading them in the tournament.
“None of what happened would have been possible without Duncan Voyles and Matt Kendrick, who took the British Parliamentary squad from an idea to beating Yale, Princeton, and Columbia in a few months,” Meng said.
In Meng’s final round, he was in the second position, the first negative opinion. Doggett said this was a difficult spot, because the judges could easily forget his arguments in the midst of the first and last groups to go.
“You have to find a way to distinguish yourself,” Doggett said.
Hillsdale competed against Yale, Princeton, George Washington, Brandeis, Clemson, Columbia, and Cornell universities, as well as Patrick Henry College.
Meanwhile, the forensics team entered Bowling Green with three students and left with five awards. Junior Steven Custer placed second in persuasive speaking and fourth in impromptu, while junior Nathan Steinmeyer placed third in radio broadcasting, fourth in impromptu, and fifth in extemporaneous.
“I think we were all pretty happy with how we placed,” Steinmeyer said. “There were not as many schools at this tournament as normal, but there were still some that had very good teams, including Notre Dame, Marshall, and Western Kentucky.”
While speech team regular Mary Blendermann, a junior, took the week off, Steinmeyer said he rejoined the team this weekend and will compete through the end of the season.
Sophomore Nathaniel Turtel did not place but said he introduced his new informative speech about “a German extremist group called the Reichsburger.”
The speech team will compete in the novice league’s state finals Saturday.