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The debate team with awards after com­peting at PKD Nationals Tour­nament. Courtesy Katrina Torsoe

Twenty members of the Hillsdale College Debate Team — along with Coach Matthew Doggett and eight former stu­dents who served as coaches — traveled to Hofstra Uni­versity in Hemp­stead, New York for the Pi Kappa Delta National Tour­nament. The team placed third overall in debate sweep­stakes and fin­ished in the top 20 percent of teams in com­bined speech and debate sweep­stakes despite only com­peting in debate.

Pi Kappa Delta is a forensics hon­orary, which hosts a biennial tour­nament for its chapters to compete in a variety of dif­ferent speech and debate events. That tour­nament draws from all over the country. This year’s tour­nament, which was PKD’s 51st biennial event, saw teams from 71 dif­ferent schools in 27 states.

A number of indi­viduals placed at the top of their events. Sopho­mores Erin Reichard and Amelia Ras­musen took first in Worlds Debate — a form of British Par­lia­mentary. Instead of the cus­tomary two pairs in par­lia­mentary debate, Worlds has four teams of two all com­peting against each other in one room. The PKD tour­nament was Reichard and Rasmusen’s first official expe­rience with Worlds Debate.

“It’s fun­da­men­tally about engaging with the best form of your opponent’s argument rather than just playing some tac­tical game,” Reichard said. “British Par­lia­mentary debate is more of a dis­cussion and more about the ideas them­selves.”

The two finalists in the Junior Lincoln Douglas debate final were Hillsdale team members. Sophomore TJ Wilson and freshman Ben Bies were the last men standing in the junior division, and Bies won the national cham­pi­onship because of his rank going into the final round. Bies said he “destroyed” his early com­pe­tition and worked his way up in the seeding for the pre­lim­inary rounds of the tour­nament. He said his per­for­mance in early rounds boosted his con­fi­dence and pre­pared him for the final rounds of com­pe­tition.

“I found out at this tour­nament that when I go into my rounds angry, I debate a lot better,” Bies said. “It can make me look like a little bit of a jerk in the round, but it helps win rounds and gives you good energy.”

Johnson said the team did well overall and was happy with the per­for­mance.

“We had a great time and a lot of good team bonding,” Johnson said. “Frankly, when you’re stuck with people for six days, you get to know people really well. That makes it a lot easier to cel­e­brate your team­mates’ suc­cesses.”

A few weeks before the PKD tour­nament, Hillsdale sent two debaters to a Cal­i­fornia tour­nament to gain infor­mation about the dif­fer­ences between West Coast and East Coast debate. Johnson said the infor­mation helped the team a bit.

“We def­i­nitely found out that they do more of the Kritik style of debate,” she said. “Of course, which Kritik they’re going to run is not some­thing we can really predict. It will def­i­nitely help us going forward with our next tour­nament.”

At the end of April, select members of the team will travel to the National Forensics Asso­ci­ation Tour­nament. The tour­nament focuses on Lincoln Douglas debate and will be held in Southern Cal­i­fornia.