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The Hillsdale College Debate Team took eighth place at the National Forensic Asso­cation National Cham­pi­onship Tour­nament in Santa Ana, Cal­i­fornia. Katrina Torsoe | Courtesy

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.”