Talking Saints Return to In-Person Tournaments
HELENA – Carroll College’s Talking Saints sent nine students to Whitworth University in Spokane on October 22-23 and picked up four first-place awards and a third-place Sweepstakes award.
First-year Paxton Sheppard from Rigby, Idaho, achieved a rare trifecta, winning three events, extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking and prose interpretation. Anna Brown, a sophomore from Olympia, Washington, won novice persuasion.
“Quite a showing for a small group competing in their first in-person tournament in years,” said coach Brent Northup. “It’s early, but it’s encouraging. I’m not sure what Paxton does for an encore.”
Two other Talking Saints won awards. Charlie Said, first year from Seattle, was third in novice prose, and Kaden Crozier of Kalispell reached finals in novice impromptu.
The students were glad to turn off cameras and make friends with competitors from other schools.
“It was such a fun experience to get to not only compete in person but also interact with other competitors,” said Brown. “When I sat out in the hallway waiting for my speech, competitors just talked to me, asking about my events, how long I had done speech and debate. Not only did this calm me down, but throughout the rest of the tournament, they were always friendly waving and gentle smiles in passing or before rounds. It was really nice to see the talent, as well as meeting the amazing people.”
“Traveling with the team was really great, especially after the online tournament,” said Said. “It was cool to be on a college campus, giving speeches and watching debates. I had the sense that this is the real start to the competition year.”
Senior Mariah Hurd of Seattle admits to being a touch sentimental as she starts her final lap, before seeking a job as a science or French teacher. The team awarded Hurd the Carroll Bear, a stuffed grizzly in Saints garb, for being so supportive throughout the weekend
“The Whitworth tournament was one of the first tournaments I competed in at Carroll,” said Hurd. “Having that be the first tournament of my senior year is nostalgic. Making friends is much easier at in-person tournaments and that's my favorite part of competition, so having that back is truly amazing. I'm glad we are back in the swing of in-person competition as that is what makes forensics so invigorating and rewarding.”
Fittingly, Hurd also won the Carroll Bear at Whitworth three years ago.
“Mariah has been part of the glue that holds us together all her years,” said Northup. “A team can’t survive without members who put friendship above competition. Mariah comes away happy no matter the outcome. She’s always on the lookout for those who need a hug.”
The new team members travel to Canada on October 29-30 to compete at the University of Calgary in a novice debate tournament. Then the entire team will compete in the first of the two regional championship events, an online tournament hosted by Linfield College on November 11-13.
“At 30 strong, we have our biggest team in 20 years,” said Northup. “They are happy and relieved to be slipping out of the pandemic and into the sunshine again, even though we will be mixing live with online events this year.”