Hillsdale Col­lege’s Debate Team at Penn State.

At Penn State this past weekend, the Hillsdale College debate team crushed their com­pe­tition with seven of the eight debaters who attended the tour­nament taking home trophies.

Overall, the team placed first in debate sweep­stakes and second in overall sweep­stakes. Overall sweep­stakes includes both speech and debate events. Hillsdale does not par­tic­ipate in speech. Junior and team manager Jadon Buzzard explained that the team’s per­for­mance at the tour­nament was espe­cially impressive as they had not been per­forming well outside of the pre­lim­inary rounds so far this season.

“Up until this tour­nament, we hadn’t done very well in out rounds,” Buzzard said. “That’s why this tour­nament is pretty important because we won every single out round that we had in this tour­nament. We only lost one, total, and everybody who went to this tour­nament broke into out rounds.”

Buzzard, along with sophomore Tavio Pela, swept the open division finals. Sophomore Frank Vitale and junior Erin Reichard swept the JV division finals. Junior Wiliam Cham­berlain, a first-year debater, advanced to the quar­ter­final round in open division. Coach Matthew Doggett said Cham­berlain wildly improved from his first tour­nament per­for­mance where he lost all six of his pre­lim­inary rounds. 

“I turned my per­for­mance around after my first tour­nament by prac­ticing more, including the par­lia­mentary debate style to improve my impro­vi­sa­tional skills,” Cham­berlain said in an email. “I also famil­iarized myself with the evi­dence I was going to use so as to be better prepared.”

Cham­berlain said he joined the debate team this year because he was friends with many of the debaters and was curious about the “hype.” Overall, he said his expe­rience has been fantastic.

“All of the more expe­ri­enced debaters are always willing to help you with your case or topics that you have trouble with,” he said. “Also, despite the argu­men­tative nature of debate, everyone tries to keep up a fun and friendly atmos­phere where even if you have just had a very heated debate round, you can just get up, shake hands, and have fun with them after.”

Doggett said the team is com­prised of a solid junior class who now have three years of debate expe­rience. He explained that the team now runs on autopilot.

“We’ve done very well,” Doggett said. “We’ve got the most people qual­ified  for our national tour­nament than we’ve ever had and earlier than we’ve ever had.”