Picture left to right: Tori Hill, Becca Poliquin, Peri Dropping, Kelsey Watkins, Freddy Gray, and Frank Stumbo.
HELENA – The Carroll College Talking Saints forensics team won the first place overall sweepstakes award at the Western Washington Regional Championships held in Bellingham, Washington, January 27-29. The Saints beat more than twenty colleges and universities from Utah to California and all the Northwest states.
The win extended Carroll’s regional streak to 27 consecutive years of either winning or sharing the Northwest Forensics Conference title. This year, Boise State University and Lewis & Clark College also earned Gold Medal Program awards for outstanding seasons.
The Saints were led by a strong showing in World Debate, with first-years Kelsey Watkins of Snohomish, Washington, and Peri Dropping of Redmond, Washington, winning the junior division. Juniors Tori Hill of Sidney, Montana, and Becca Poliquin of Hamilton, Montana, placed second in open debate with juniors Frank Stumbo of Shelley, Idaho, and Freddy Gray of Idaho Falls, right behind in third. Open World Debate was won by the region’s top team from Seattle University.
Saints swept the top five speaker awards in junior, and won three speaker awards in open. Six team members won multiple awards including Poliquin, Hill, Dropping, Watkins, Stumbo and sophomore Haley Meredith of Jerome, Idaho.
The team also won 11 awards in Extemporaneous and Impromptu Speaking, and six more in the interpretation events. Poliquin won first place in program oral interpretation. First-year Kennedy Bahm of Missoula won the Orv Iverson award, the “rookie of the year” award for the conference.
“The story of this tournament for us and many other teams was the dominant showing of the female debaters,” said coach Brent Northup. “Debate used to be a male-dominated event, but no more. In World Debate, all four finalist teams in junior were female-female teams, and the top two teams in open were as well. All the speaker awards in junior were won by women.”
World Debate in the BP format seems to have attracted more women, says Northup, who says he’s not entirely sure of all the causes.
“We’re going to the Canadian national women’s championships in Vancouver in March along with teams from Toronto and Montreal. The glass ceiling is breaking in intercollegiate debate.”