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Speech and debate students pose with their awards at the Pi Kappa Delta tournament | Matt Kendrick

After missing nearly a week of class, the Hillsdale College debate and forensics teams returned to campus at 3 a.m. Monday, bringing home multiple national champions and several other awards. The students competed at the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament from March 21-25, taking fourth overall in the Debate Team Sweepstakes.

Junior Mary Blendermann earned a national title in Discussion, an event exclusive to the tournament, and freshman Hannah Johnson was the national champion in Novice Lincoln-Douglas Debate.

Blendermann, a speech team member, said winning the event was a “special highlight” of the season. She said the Discussion category was a way for the tournament to educate students in using real-world skills such as problem solving.

“You collaborate with a team of five other people to solve a problem that is based on a real-world issue in a series of three rounds that each last an hour and a half,” Blendermann said. “This year’s discussion topic was, ‘What steps can be taken to establish safe zones on college and university campuses?’ I worked with my team to create a realistic plan to propose to institutions interested in establishing such safe zones, including resources for navigating faculty involvement and protecting students’ privacy.”

Blendermann’s performance in the new event earned her the top spot, while freshman Rowan Macwan took fourth place overall. Both students received Superior awards, which are given to the top 10 percent in each category. Several Hillsdale students earned Excellent awards for placing in the top 30 percent and Good awards for placing in the top 60 percent.

In Open Lincoln-Douglas Debate, senior Graham Deese received an Excellent award and placed eighth overall, while Lucy Meckler finished 4-2 but did not receive an award. In the Junior Varsity section of individual parliamentary debate, freshman Brigid Majmudar received an Excellent award, while Johnson was rated Excellent at the novice level. Macwan took ninth in Congress, a mock legislature event where students pass bills. No one placed in the duo parliamentary debate or Public Forum.

The forensics students also earned multiple Excellent awards. Blendermann received awards for the Impromptu and Informative Speaking categories, and junior Steven Custer, the team manager, was recognized in the Persuasive and Extemporaneous Speaking categories.

Blendermann said their performances in these different events showed they were equally prepared to speak with or without preparation.

“PKD is our one opportunity to compete against schools we don’t normally see at smaller regional tournaments and test our mettle against very accomplished speakers from schools across the nation such as Wiley University, William Carey University, and Boise State University, this year’s tournament host,” Blendermann said.

While the speech team is finished for the season, the debate team will compete in the National Forensics Association tournament from April 13-17.

  • Jennifer Melfi

    the headline is very misleading here. I’m not saying that PKD is weak competition or anything, but it isn’t the real “nationals”