Talking Saints Earn Gold Medal Program Award at Regional Championships

Talking Saints at Pacific University; Freddy Gray and Frank Stumbo

Regional Crown Recipients for 28th Straight Year

HELENA – The Carroll College Talking Saints forensics team made it 28 straight years winning or sharing the title in the Northwest Forensics Conference held at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, January 25-27. Carroll won 40 awards, including eight first-place finishes, at the season’s final regional championship forensics tournament. The team brought home the Gold Medal Program Award, the region’s top year-long award, shared with Boise State University and Lewis & Clark College.

Seventeen separate Carroll students brought home trophies. Twenty-three colleges from five states competed, with Boise State winning tournament sweepstakes honors, with Carroll a strong second, almost doubling the remaining 21 schools. Boise State is coached by 1997 Talking Saint alumna, Manda Hicks.

First-year Josh Mansfield of Pocatello, Idaho, won the Orv Iverson Award, emblematic of the rookie of the year, the best new speaker in the region. Mansfield’s debate partner, first-year Teigen Tremper of Whitefish, Montana, finished second in the Iverson race.

The Saints debaters led the charge, advancing five teams to championship rounds in BP debate and winning the top division. Senior Freddy Gray of Idaho Falls and junior Frank Stumbo of Shelley, Idaho, won the open division, with Gray named top speaker in the tournament. First-years Mansfield and Tremper were second in junior BP debate, with Mansfield named the second best speaker. Five more Saints received speaker awards. Four of the eight teams in the championship rounds of debate were from Carroll.

The team was equally strong in the speech and drama events, winning 12 awards in Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu, plus five more in interpretation events. First and second-year students won half of the Saints’ awards, boding well for the future.

Five team members won three or more awards. Mansfield won six, with sophomore Kelsie Watkins of Snohomish, Washington, winning five awards including recognition in debate, interpretation and extemp. Watkins won first in prose, first in extemp and with partner Peri Dropping of Redmond, Washington, advanced to the finals of junior BP debate.

First-year Parker Gunderson of Billings, Montana, and senior Tori Hill of Sidney, Montana, both won four awards. Gunderson won first in novice impromptu, second in novice prose and was named second best novice in the tournament. Hill and senior partner Becca Poliquin of Hamilton, Montana, advanced to the semi-finals of debate. Hill and Poliquin, who won the Rocky Mountain championship in November, have reached semi-finals or better in every tournament this year.

First-year debate partners Ollie Robson of Billings and Cheyenne Damron of Glendive, Montana, both won two awards.

“There were lots of wonderful moments this weekend,” said coach Brent Northup. “The team almost knocked over Freddy when he was named top speaker in debate. He’s a much-loved member, part of the glue that holds our family together. Kelsie’s wins produced cheers from her partner Peri and others, who loved to see her hard work pay off. Virtually the whole team crowded into the room for the final debate to see Freddy and Frank win. There’s very little jealousy on this team–they root for each other, and don’t mind losing so long as the person on the top step is a teammate.”

The Talking Saints now turn their attention to two national championships in Colorado Springs and at Stanford University, both in April. Those events will be preceded by a couple national warm-ups to get ready for Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Stanford and the elite national field.

“We don’t scare the Ivies, nobody does,” said Northup, “but it’s fair to say they respect us.”

Learn more about Forensics at Carroll College