Hillsdale’s Debate Team attended a com­pe­tition at Webster College. Rowan Macwan and Duncan Voyles pose with the mascot. Courtesy.

Hillsdale College’s debate team spent the weekend reminding its com­petitors just how many awards it could snatch with just a dozen stu­dents, most of whom are freshmen.

The team placed second in “The Gorlok” at Webster Uni­versity in Mis­souri, and several stu­dents set new per­sonal records Jan. 27 – 29. Stu­dents said the results from this most com­pet­itive tour­nament of the year give them hope for doing well at nationals.

“Webster is the most com­pet­itive Lincoln-Douglas tour­nament that we attend outside of nationals,” senior Graham Deese said. “So the fact that so many of our stu­dents did so well bodes well for our chances when we get to the national tour­nament.”

Coach Matthew Doggett, assistant pro­fessor of rhetoric and public address, said the teams’ per­for­mances impressed him, espe­cially against some of the best colege debate teams in the country. Schools came from as far as Cal­i­fornia and New Hamp­shire.

The fierce com­pe­tition, however, didn’t stop freshman Alexandra Negrich, who broke into the finals in her first tour­nament. Negrich joined freshman Hannah Johnson in qual­i­fying for nationals.

“I had never done debate before, so I knew it would serve as an excellent learning expe­rience,” Negrich said. “It was even better than I had antic­i­pated, espe­cially since our team did so well.”

Negrich made it to the quar­ter­finals of the novice Lincoln-Douglas round, while Johnson fin­ished in the semi­finals.

Five other stu­dents advanced to the elim­i­nation rounds. Freshmen Natalie Van Handel and Kathleen Hancock were both novice finalists, with Van Handel taking home her first overall win and Hancock making it to the semi­finals. Freshman Eliz­abeth Owen took ninth place in the junior varsity tour­nament. Freshman Joel Meng and Deese made it to the octo­final round in the open, or varsity, tour­nament, with Meng doing so for the first time.

In the two-person team par­lia­mentary debates, three of Hillsdale’s five pairs made it to the elim­i­nation rounds. In junior varsity, freshmen Brigid Maj­mudar and Eliz­abeth Owen placed fourth. In open, Deese and junior Duncan Voyles took fifth place, while Meng and Lucy Meckler placed second. Each team won at least one elim­i­nation round.

Meng said he and Meckler had to argue the effec­tiveness of building a wall on the border, and despite the close debate, they could not sway their judges. It, however, was still another “first” for the team.

“This was the first time in at least eight years that we have had a team advance to open quar­ter­finals or better, and this year, we had two,” Deese said. “As this is the most com­pet­itive tour­nament that we attend, we are very happy with these fin­ishes.”

Edit: This article pre­vi­ously stated Webster Uni­versity was in Mis­sis­sippi. It is located in Mis­souri. We apol­ogize for this error.