Carroll Talking Saints Off to Nationals

Monday, March 21, 2016

HELENA – Ten members of the Carroll College Talking Saints forensics team have qualified for the national championships to be held in Gainesville, Florida, on April 1-4 and in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 8-11. Carroll’s students attended national-level warm-ups during February and March to tune up and qualify for the April championships.

Carroll’s top senior debate team, Mark Schmutzler of Helena and Ryden Meyer of Portland, finished second in World Debate at the Western United States championships held at Cal Poly on March 4-6. Carroll was defending its Western title won in 2015, but lost a close decision in finals to a team from the University of Alaska.

Schmutzler and Meyer were also selected for a by-invitation-only round robin, America’s Cup, which precedes nationals in Atlanta. The Carroll team has won every major Northwest tournament during their career, and they’ve finished at or near the top of events in Vermont, California and Colorado. They have won two national awards so far, and are in search of a third.

Senior Nick Fuller of Seattle and sophomore Jake MacDuff of Seattle debated well, but just missed finishing in the top eight and qualifying for semifinals.

“We were very proud of how close Mark and Ryden came to repeating,” said Brent Northup, coach of the Talking Saints. “Even the winning Alaska coach made a point to say how well Mark and Ryden debated. It was close.”

The sophomore team of Becca Poliquin of Hamilton, Montana, and Tori Hill of Sidney, Montana, finished third in a special women’s tournament at Pacific Lutheran University on March 11. The freshman team of Frank Stumbo of Shelley, Idaho, and Alex Thielman of Spokane, Washington, won the novice championship at the Betsy Karl Invitational also held at PLU – their fourth win this year. Hill won a speaker award.

“The debate teams are ready for nationals in Georgia,” said Northup. “We know the challenges presented by Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Cornell and the rest of that elite crowd. But to be the best you have to beat the best – or get beaten by them, as the case may be. Harvard won the world championships in Greece, so they’re the favorite. Carroll purple looks a lot like Harvard crimson, don’t you think?”

Two Carroll seniors have qualified for the National Individual Events Tournament at the University of Florida.

Hanna Hillier of Jerome, Idaho, won both Dramatic Interpretation and Prose at a tune up in Nampa, Idaho, on February 14. Hillier has won seven first places over the course of the year, and was only one point from reaching the championship rounds at Nationals last year.

Anna Hoerner of Spokane, Washington, attended the NIET district championships, qualifying for NIET nationals in all four of her events: Impromptu, Prose, Poetry and Persuasion.

This marks the third consecutive time that Hillier and Hoerner have qualified for the national championships in individual events.

“The top tier at NIET are the University of Texas, Western Kentucky, Bradley, George Mason, Nebraska and the University of Alabama, which is as good in speech as it is in football,” said Northup. “It’s energizing to lock horns with the Longhorns and the Crimson Tide.”

This marks the 27th consecutive year Carroll has qualified students for national tournaments in both speech and debate.

“Nationals is an amazing opportunity to be on the same playing field with these top actors and actresses,” says Hillier.

“We are really excited for the opportunity to compete at debate nationals, and we think we have a good shot at placing this year,” said Meyer.