Talking Saints Take on Three Cities & Two Countries

Photo: Carroll seniors Becca Poliquin of Hamiltion, Montana and Tori Hill of Sidney, Montana
Friday, October 27, 2017

HELENA – In a tale of three cities, the Carroll College Talking Saints Forensics Team won awards at three separate tournaments in two countries held in Denver, Calgary and Spokane on October 20-22.

Seniors Tori Hill of Sidney, Montana, and Becca Poliquin of Hamiltion, Montana, won the Rocky Mountain Championships in British Parliamentary debate held at Denver University, defeating a huge field of 80 teams from 10 states – including top-rated teams from South Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Alaska and California.

The win was cheered by a packed auditorium of debaters, many of whom had known Tori and Becca throughout their four years competing.

The judges took very little time in deliberation after the championship round, announcing that they were “confident in their unanimous decision and came to it quickly.”

“There was so much support across the debate community, with loud knocking in support for us during the final round,” said Poliquin. “It was powerful to win in that supportive environment against people we’ve been competing against for four years.”

Hill, a pre-med student, welcomed a final round topic addressing medical ethics.

“After they announced that we had won, coaches and teams from all the other schools came up and congratulated us,” said Hill. “I got to talk about medical ethics in my final speech, which was fun because I got to apply knowledge from my major and my future career to an activity I love.”

The tournament included teams who throughout the tournament could be heard wondering “who’s Carroll?” as Poliquin and Hill kept advancing.

“When we heard that,” said Poliquin, “We told each other, ‘They’re going to find out.’ ”

Many observers were thrilled to see a female team win the tournament. Debate has a growing number of females participating, but it still tends to be dominated by male debaters. Four of the eight debaters in final were female, but Hill and Poliquin were the only all-female team. Roughly a third of the 160 debaters at the tournament were female. The top speaker was a female from Denver.

Senior Freddy Gray of Idaho Falls and junior Frank Stumbo of Shelley, Idaho, also finished in the top 20, losing out on a tie-breaker which kept them from advancing to the elimination rounds.

In Canada, first year Josh Mansfield of Pocatello, Idaho, was named top speaker at the University of Calgary Fall Open held at the University of Calgary. Mansfield and partner Teigen Tremper of Whitefish, Montana, advanced to the championship round, losing to the University of Alberta in the championship debate. Three Carroll first year teams represented Carroll at the tournament.

“It was such a great honor to be in Canada competing for Carroll against teams from a foreign country,” said first year Jackson Richards of Spokane.

Competing in Canada meant Carroll teams had to debate on Canadian topics, such as issues involving indigenous peoples of Canada.

“Canadian teams provide very unique perspectives despite being so close to America,” said first year Parker Gunderson of Billings.

In Spokane at Whitworth University, three Carroll students advanced to championship rounds in speech and drama events. Sophomore Kaia Roberge of Frenchtown, Montana, competed in the finals of impromptu and program oral interp. Sophomore Gordon Graham of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, made finals in prose interpretation.

“It was very surreal and Star Trek-like to be competing in three places at once,” said coach Brent Northup. “The Carroll students from different locations kept texting each other about their successes and cheers could be heard across the borders. They were so happy for each other.”

The semester concludes with events at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, and Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, in November.