Hillsdale’s Debate Team. Katrina Torsoe | Courtesy

Hillsdale’s Debate team won top overall debate team at their first tour­nament of the season this past weekend at Western Ken­tucky Uni­versity in Bowling Green, Ken­tucky. 

They com­peted against uni­ver­sities from as far as New York, Nebraska, and Alabama. 

Matthew Doggett, debate coach and assistant pro­fessor of speech, said “it’s the first tour­nament of the year with a lot of young debaters, so expec­ta­tions were lower than usual. And everyone over­per­formed.”

Hillsdale won debate sweep­stakes, and its per­for­mance was so con­sistent that it even won 5th place overall sweep­stakes. 

Three freshmen and eight upper­classmen trav­elled to debate whether the federal gov­ernment should increase investment in energy sectors like wind, solar, and nuclear. 

Team Manager Jadon Buzzard and T.J. Wilson, both juniors, each had 3 – 1 records in the open division and made it to the octa-final round. Freshman Olivia Ols also had a 3 – 1 record in the novice division and made it to the semi-final round. 

In his octa-final round Buzzard argued against a debater from Western Ken­tucky who argued the gov­ernment should invest money into poor com­mu­nities for them to build solar panels so they have greater energy security. 

In his octa-final round, Wilson’s opponent argued that the gov­ernment should reg­ulate and sub­sidize nuclear energy to facil­itate inno­vation in nuclear tech­nology. 

Ols’ semi-final opponent argued that the US mil­itary should lead the world in fighting climate change by reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. She said this com­pe­tition helped her see how she can improve. 

“I’m still learning how to spend my time on the most impactful, per­suasive argu­ments,” Ols said.

Buzzard and junior Katrina Torsoe were both invited to compete in a round-robin tour­nament a day before the main tour­nament began. They qual­ified for the invi­ta­tional because they had both broken from the pre­lim­inary rounds into the out-rounds at nationals last season. 

“We both fin­ished around the middle of the pack,” Buzzard said.

The team also faced some physical adversity at the location. Road clo­sures for a local marathon meant they had to walk up steep hills for over a half a mile, a painful journey par­tic­u­larly for those wearing high heels. 

Ols said she enjoys how the team helps her grow. 

“I love the team’s com­munity,” she said. “They help you develop your strengths and grow from your weak­nesses.”

Buzzard said the team made the tour­nament worth it, “espe­cially bonding with them eating fast-food on the floor of a school we don’t attend.”

Doggett said he was proud of how the team stuck together. 

“The team overcame the marathon, massive heat, a lack of usable elec­trical outlets, and many other things to live up to the Hillsdale slogan: strength rejoices in the chal­lenge,” Doggett said.