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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”