Five Hillsdale College debaters spent Easter break in sunny Santa Ana, California at the National Forensic Association National Championship Tournament, taking eighth place overall in the biggest national tournament in NFA history.
Junior Hannah Johnson, sophomores Jadon Buzzard, Katrina Torsoe, Theodore Wilson, and freshman Benjamin Bies debated 120 competitors from 34 different schools, including Western Kentucky University and Penn State in the Lincoln-Douglas form of debate.
“NFA is a pretty unpredictable tournament and it’s the best debaters in the country, so competition is going to be stiff,” Johnson said.
Buzzard and Torsoe both broke out of preliminary rounds in the Open Division, while Bies broke out of preliminary rounds in the Novice Division. Buzzard placed as a triple-octofinalist, Torsoe as a double-octofinalist, and Bies as a semifinalist.
“Overall, it was a pretty successful tournament,” Buzzard said. “We had a good amount of people break, and especially because it’s the largest national tournament they’ve ever had before, it was definitely good for Hillsdale.”
A few weeks before the tournament, Buzzard and Wilson traveled to a Lincoln-Douglas tournament at Sacramento State to better understand the intricacies of West Coast debate. Torsoe said the information they gained during their trip out West helped the team with their preparation and performance.
“It definitely helped us to know the kind of judging that was there and how they viewed stock issues and speed out there,” Torsoe said. “There was a lot of good judging. Almost all of my rounds were coaches and really experienced judges.”
NFA concludes debate season, but the team is already looking forward to next year.
“We’re looking to be even better, recruit more people, and hone the skills of the people that we already have,” Johnson said. “It’ll be a completely new topic, either energy or climate. We’ve started doing research and looking into that area. We’re looking to just build on the successes we had this year.”