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.