Talking Saints Fuller Qualifies for Nationals in Six Events

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

HELENA – The Carroll College Talking Saints’ Michael Fuller is headed to nationals in six events.

Fuller, a junior from Helena majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, won four events and took second in his other two at the National Individual Events qualifier held the first weekend of March at Mt. Hood Community College in Portland, Oregon. His success qualified all six of his events to the National Individual Events Tournament which will be held at the University of Alabama, April 5-7. Fuller qualified for national championships for the third consecutive year.

Fuller took first place in Poetry, Dramatic Interpretation, Program Oral Interpretation and Informative Speaking, while placing second in Prose Interpretation and Persuasive Speaking.

“Pretty amazing showing,” said coach Brent Northup. “Michael’s been getting better every year, and it sure seemed like he peaked at the right time at the national qualifier. It’s been a while since one of our team qualified in six events. He’s in good company.”

Fuller competes in interpretation events, which are similar to theater auditions, with 10-minute excerpts from published prose, poetry or drama. He also competes in platform events, which are student-written speeches, either persuading or informing an audience on a topic.

Northup says the secret to Fuller’s success this year is that he’s learning the power of silence and softness.

“The coaches and I have been studying the ballots, and we saw the performances that were doing best were the subtle ones,” he said. “So we toned down the others to make them more genuine. Before they were over-the-top at times, and now they’re becoming more natural. Judges are looking for authenticity.”

One of his interps tells a realistic and sad story of a gay man who falls in love with his straight best friend. Fuller says there’s no happy ending.

“The relationship changes and then breaks apart,” he says. “Relationship endings aren’t always big and angry. Sometimes they just begin to fall apart without need of much talking. The quiet parts are the most touching and genuine.”

Fuller has roughly a month to get ready for nationals, and he’s already quite excited to fly to Alabama.

“I hate humidity so I’m not excited about that,” he said. “But I get to see my friends from around the country and to learn from top level competitors. It’s a great privilege to watch these phenomenal people share their own stories in their own fashion.”

While Fuller is preparing for nationals, Carroll’s four top debate teams are preparing for a national warm up in Tacoma, Washington, and then for the national debate championships at Clemson University in South Carolina on April 13-15. The debaters returned early from Spring Break.

“They suspect Yale and Harvard might not be looking much past the Mississippi, so they are preparing hard to bring a touch of Montana winter into their cozy Ivy League lives,” said Northup. “There was no resistance when we asked them to come back early. They’re dedicated.”