Katrina Torsoe | Courtesy

Hillsdale debate team won first place in debate at Otterbein Uni­versity this past weekend. They placed fourth overall team, beating The Ohio State Uni­versity, Penn­syl­vania State Uni­versity, and Arizona State Uni­versity.

The 12 team members who com­peted entered Lincoln Douglas debate, Indi­vidual Par­lia­mentary Debate, and Indi­vidual Speaking Events.  

“All 12 stu­dents got awards,” Debate Coach Matthew Doggett said. “It’s always nice when your stu­dents are hard working and they get rec­og­nized.”

In the open division of Lincoln Douglas (LD) debate, sophomore Lucy Meckler won first place debater, and senior Alexandra Negrich won first place debate speaker. In the novice division of LD debate, freshman Justin Politzer won first place debater. In Impromptu speaking, senior Mary Blen­dermann won first place.

“I’ve been around the block a few times, and me winning impromptu is me doing what I know how to do,” Blen­dermann said.

Team manager and senior Duncan Voyles made semi­finals in the open division of LD debate. Because she was a higher seed, Meckler advanced past Voyles to finals, where she won.

Meckler, who also won third place debate speaker, was unde­feated all weekend. She said that she was par­tic­u­larly glad to win the final round, where she defeated “one of the best debaters in the circuit,” a student from Central Michigan Uni­versity.

In novice division finals of LD debate, Politzer beat the person who had won the pre­vious tour­nament. Meckler said seeing Politzer over­coming his fear and beating the person who won the pre­vious tour­nament was encour­aging.

“I feel like I’ve been steadily been improving,” Politzer said. “I feel really grateful for all the skills Coach Doggett and Lucy have given me.”

Freshman Patrick Mitchell won three awards. He won second in Impromptu speaking, second in Infor­mative Speaking, and fourth in Extem­po­ra­neous speaking.

“I am really excited par­tic­u­larly for Impromptu where Mary and I won top two places,” Mitchell said. “It was cool to see the work we’ve done together pay off.”

Blen­dermann, who heads up the speaking events on the debate team said she was proud of Mitchell.

“He’s worked really hard this semester,” she said. “It was an excep­tional showing for a freshman.”

This tour­nament was Negrich’s first time com­peting in the open division.

“I was bummed out that I wasn’t doing all that well in rounds, but it was such a con­fi­dence booster to win 1st speaker in open,” Negrich said. “It wasn’t as mor­ti­fying as I thought it would be.”

Freshman Jadon Buzzard, who made semi­finals in the open division, said debating in later rounds taught him new skills.

“Oper­ating later in the tour­nament forced me to adapt to the pressure of out­rounds, which is much more stressful,” Buzzard said.

The tour­nament had a large amount of variety. Several members noted the wide range of expe­rience among the debaters, per­spec­tives of the judges, and variety in the topics dis­cussed.

Voyles said one of his oppo­nents argued that all police should be required to have a bachelor’s degree. He said he did not think it was a good idea because of the eco­nomic impact.

“You have to pay police more because of student loans, and police in poorer areas with lower property tax revenue will struggle to survive,” Voyles said.

Buzzard argued to close a loophole in federal laws that allows local law enforcement to bypass state reg­u­la­tions. In one debate, his opponent argued for the decrim­i­nal­ization of all drug use.

Negrich argued that police unions are harmful for com­mu­nities.

“If you have an injustice and your con­sti­tu­tional rights are breached, police unions, which have grown corrupt, have pre­vented account­ability and therefore decreased com­munity trust in their police officers,” she said.

This was the first tour­nament freshman Nathaniel Birzer attended. He com­peted in Indi­vidual Par­lia­mentary Debate.

“I had one practice round the night before I was thrown in the deep end,” Birzer said.

His favorite round was when he argued that gift giving does not ruin the meaning of Christmas. He said his favorite citation was a quote from Harriet Beecher Stowe, who said that the meaning of Christmas is giving of the self to others.

The favorite moment of the weekend? As Meckler said and Voyles agreed: “It was really encour­aging to see how excited Justin gets. On the way home, most of us put our awards in the trunk — Justin slept with his trophy.”