The Hillsdale College debate team competed in parliamentary debate March 18 – 21, winning first place for small school sweepstakes. The tournament, which was virtual due to COVID-19, was hosted by Pi Kappa Delta, a forensics honorary. The team also competed in a Lincoln-Douglas tournament through the Northern Tier Regional Debate League last weekend.
At the parliamentary tournament, Parliamentary Manager and seniors Erin Reichard and senior Tavio Pela advanced to quarterfinals, seniors T.J. Wilson and Katrina Torsoe advanced to semifinals, and senior Jadon Buzzard and junior Frank Vitale advanced to finals and won.
Matthew Doggett, assistant professor of rhetoric and public address and director of debate, said he is proud of the team’s performance and that it indicates success for future seasons.
“We did really well at the parliamentary tournament. I was pleasantly surprised because we only took five teams and three advanced,” Doggett said. “The result is that we were fourth overall in debate, and the three teams in front of us had more than 20 entries. We had five entries, so we won small-entry national champions.”
According to Doggett, schools typically win small-entry national champions with closer to 20 entries, so winning with only five teams “speaks to how well everybody did.”
Buzzard, who won first place in parliamentary with his partner Vitale, said one highlight of his weekend was competing against a team from Missouri State University that had beaten them in a previous tournament.
“Going into this tournament, we faced them in quarterfinals and beat them, so that was really fun,” Buzzard said. “We were arguing about improving infrastructure in the United States.”
Erin Reichard said another good part of the competition was that it occurred over spring break, giving the team time to refresh and prepare.
“It was over spring break so we had more time to compete,” Reichard said. “Hillsdale did wonderfully overall. Jadon and Frank won, most of our teams ended up advancing, and even the teams that didn’t had a good time.”
The team also sent three debaters to the Northern Tier Lincoln-Douglas tournament and two debaters advanced to semifinals. Although parliamentary debate is finished for the season, the team has one more Lincoln-Douglas tournament for the semester.
Doggett said he is excited to lead the team through the competition and enjoys competition against “the best.”
“We’ve got one more tournament left, which is the National Forensics Association National Tournament from April 16 – 19. We’re taking five debaters in Lincoln-Douglas debate,” Doggett said. “Three of the five debaters are seniors and they all have done pretty well this year so there’s the potential that we will do well at the national tournament. And at the national tournament you get to meet people from around the country that you haven’t seen very much because you’re in different time zones.”
According to Buzzard, the final three weeks before the national tournament will be filled with meetings, research, and preparation for the competition.
“The rest of the season is going to involve us doing a bunch of research. We meet twice a week to go over strategy,” Buzzard said. “It’s really prep-intensive so you have to do a ton of preparation before you go into the round.”