Talking Saints Share Regional Crown for 26th Straight Year

Friday, February 5, 2016

February 26, 2016

The Carroll College Talking Saints forensics team received a Gold Medal Program award, the Northwest region’s highest honor, at the close of the Pacific University tournament in Forest Grove, Oregon, held January 29-31. Carroll was also honored as the region’s best overall debate program, and received a presidential award as the region’s best World Debate program.

This marks the 26th consecutive year the Talking Saints have won or shared the Northwest Conference championship. Boise State University and Lewis & Clark College also earned Division I gold program awards. Boise State won the tournament, with Carroll second and Lewis & Clark third. Twenty-eight colleges from five states participated.

“I was very proud of the team,” said Brent Northup, now in his 27th year as coach. “Both seniors and frosh did well. Two freshmen with no high school experience won awards for the second straight tournament – and the team cheered when they saw their names on the wall. Our team gave our stuffed Carroll bear to a frosh, Amber, for being so caring amidst the stress of competition.”

The tournament marked the end of the regional road for Carroll’s six seniors, the anchors of the team.

“The sad part was saying goodbye to our wonderful seniors at their last regional championship,” said Northup. “But they made a nice splash. Hanna Hiller had a great tournament to close out her memorable career. She is one of the finest performers in the nation and she’ll wrap up her career at her fourth straight nationals in Florida in April.”

Fifteen Carroll students brought home more than 30 awards.

Freshman Haley Meredith of Jerome, Idaho, led the way with five awards by finishing second in junior world debate, third in novice impromptu and third in novice prose. Senior Hanna Hiller, from Jerome, Idaho, won three awards in interpretation placing in the top three in prose, dramatic interpretation and program oral interpretation.

Carroll’s debate teams continued their yearlong success by advancing five teams to the championship rounds. Carroll took the top three places in junior world debate, and reached finals of open world debate. Seniors Mark Schmutzler of Helena and Ryden Meyer of Portland, Oregon, were named the first and second best speakers in open Worlds.

Freshmen Alex Thielman of Spokane, Washington, and Frank Stumbo of Shelley, Idaho, won their third tournament of the year by winning junior world debate. Meredith and her partner freshman Nick Taffs of Helena finished second. Also in finals were freshman Katie McNichol of Vancouver, Washington, and sophomore Luke Kendall of Stevensville, Montana.

Sophomore Jake MacDuff of Seattle won three awards including reaching semi-finals of debate with his senior partner Nick Fuller of Seattle. MacDuff won junior extemp and was third in junior impromptu.

Carroll’s team awards for year-long success in the conference were especially sweet, said Northup, because this is team composed of serious students.

“This may be one of our most academic teams ever,” said Northup. “Last semester we had 22 of our 24 team members above 3.0, 17 above 3.3, 10 above 3.6 and six above 3.8. That includes pre-med majors, education majors, chemistry majors and the usual flock of future lawyers. They are balancing busy lives, but they keep all their commitments to the team and to their professors.”

The Talking Saints will close out their year at two national tournaments, one in Florida and the other in Atlanta, Georgia. Both are in early April. Ten students will compete at those events.

The team will host three special events this semester as well. The team and the political science department are co-sponsoring a constitutional oratory contest that will conclude with a campus championship on Sunday, March 20. The Irish national champions will engage the Talking Saints in a debate on immigration on Wednesday, March 30 at Carroll.

Finally, the Saints will offer a showcase of their work some Sunday in late April. The public is invited to all events.