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.”


  • AlexanderYpsilantis

    Great article and well done, Hillsdale Team. Debate Teams very seldom get good coverage like this, but they contribute to the positive image of the school just as much as the athletes and musicians.