Juniors Mary Blen­dermann and Steven Custer stand with their awards that they achieved at their events last Sat­urday. Courtesy.

Junior Mary Blen­dermann fin­ished the state speech finals with an armful of hardware, placing in four events on Sat­urday. The Hillsdale College forensics team com­peted at Eastern Michigan Uni­versity in the Michigan Inter­col­le­giate Speech League’s State Cham­pi­onship Tour­nament.

Blen­dermann and junior Steven Custer were the only Hillsdale stu­dents who par­tic­i­pated at the event, though the team brought along student observers who will par­tic­ipate in forensics next semester, coach Matthew Warner said.

“The only person to place was Mary,” Warner said. “She killed it.”

Blen­dermann won the tournament’s Impromptu Speaking cat­egory and placed fifh in Infor­mative Speaking, Poetry, and Program of Oral Inter­pre­tation. Because she par­tic­i­pated in four events over three dif­ferent cat­e­gories, Blen­dermann placed third in the tournament’s Quadrathon, an award given to the best overall per­formers. She edged her way to the top, by making her first attempt in the Poetry cat­egory, giving a speech inter­preting a piece of work.

“In order to be eli­gible for a Quadrathon award, you have to be entered in at least one event from each of the three cat­e­gories — platform, limited prepa­ration, and inter­pre­tation — as well as a fourth event,” Blen­dermann said in an email. “Those who receive Quadrathon tro­phies have the highest cumu­lative point totals across all of their events.”

The speech team joined the debate team on Tuesday, as they traveled to the Pi Kappa Delta Con­vention and National Tour­nament at Boise State Uni­versity in Idaho. The com­pe­tition runs from March 21 – 25 and requires a joint effort by the two teams.

“Everyone on the speech team will be doing two debate events: Dis­cussion and Student Con­gress,” Custer said. “Sim­i­larly, everyone on the debate team is doing indi­vidual speech events. Some examples include Radio Broad­casting, Per­suasive, and After Dinner Speaking.”

Warner said he hopes for a top 10 finish this year with the speech team, and he said debate coach Matthew Doggett is seeking a top five finish for the debate stu­dents.

He said he would nor­mally also expect a top five finish, but the speech team is smaller than a typical tour­nament squad. The debate team typ­i­cally expects first place, but this year, there is a much larger pool of com­petitors.

“Overall, we are after three team awards,” Warner said. “Team Debate Sweep­stakes, Team Indi­vidual Events Sweep­stakes, and Com­bined Sweep­stakes. Each of the three, due to the overlap by both debate and speech team members, is fully con­sidered a Hillsdale Com­pet­itive Speaking honor. We have won the Debate Sweep­stakes three out of the last four biennial tour­na­ments. Last time, we fin­ished second. Our best-ever com­bined finish so far has been first in Debate, fourth in Indi­vidual Events, and third in Com­bined Sweep­stakes.”

The Pi Kappa Delta Tour­nament is the final event of the speech team’s season. The debate team will compete in the National Forensics Asso­ci­ation cham­pi­onship in April.