Pictured above: Winning Debaters from Linfield
HELENA – The Carroll College Talking Saints won 40 awards including the overall school sweepstakes award at the 93rd annual Mahaffey Memorial Tournament, hosted online by Linfield College on November 10-12. Eighteen of 22 competing Carroll team members, including all nine first-year students, won awards, as the Saints defeated 37 colleges from more than 20 states. The team successfully defended its Linfield championship, which Carroll also won in 2022.
Sophomore Charlie Said from Seattle won the Singletary Award, given to the best debater at the tournament. He and partner Catherine Dudley, a sophomore from Pendleton, Indiana, placed second in Varsity BP debate, losing to Seattle University in finals. Dudley won recognition as second best speaker. First-year Emily Mowat of Billings was named a Brenda Marshall winner as one of the top three first-year students competing.
“Both the Singletary and the Sweepstakes awards are tall traveling trophies, engraved with winners stretching well into the past century,” said coach Brent Northup. “The Mahaffey is the oldest tournament in the country, dating back to 1930. I’d like to say we knew we could do this, but in truth this win was a delightful shock to us all. A team full of hard-working students – half of them newcomers - worked hard and cared for each other. That’s the only way team victories happen.”
The debaters led the parade, with six Carroll teams reaching finals, joined by two teams from other schools. Two more Carroll teams reached semifinals. Ashlynne Jeffries of Vancouver, Washington, and partner Brad Tomasovic of Great Falls won junior debate, a welcome win after finishing second at their two prior tournaments this year.
In speech, the Saints were led by the first-year students who swept five of the six top awards in novice and junior prose – the novices finished 1, 2, 3, sweeping the top awards. Hadley Wilcox of Kennewick, Washington, finished first, Katy Keim of Moscow, Idaho, finished second and Ashlynne Jeffries of Vancouver, Washington, was third.
“We were all together watching the awards and when they said we were the top three, everybody in the room started screaming and we could barely hear who got what place,” said Wilcox.
“It was really special,” said Jeffries. “Really cool.”
Mowat won junior prose, with Jase Frost of Ronan placing third.
Eleven Saints won more than one award, led by Mowat who won junior prose, placed second in novice impromptu and reached finals of open debate earning her Marshall Award recognition as one of the top newcomers in the region.
Junior Anna Brown from Olympia, Washington, won first in junior persuasion, reached finals in inform and semi-finals in debate, with partner Sophia McAdam, a junior from Portland, Oregon.
Davis Thompson, a first year from East Helena, was named top speaker in junior debate and reached finals of open debate with his partner Emily Mowat.
Of the awards, 17 were won by students with no speech and debate experience prior to college.
“We welcome students who want a team and a family as part of their college experience,” said Northup. "Our hidden feeder sources include women basketball players, cellists, goat herders, and future Ukrainian diplomats. And I’m not making this up.”
Northup, in his 33rd year as coach, celebrated the success of a “legacy” team member.
“Katy Keim’s success this weekend was quite wonderful and very sentimental,” says Northup. “When I arrived in 1989, I was greeted by sophomore Elissa Braico and a year later Darrell Keim joined the team. They were married after graduation in 1994, and now in 2023 their daughter Katy has joined us. She had no experience in speech and debate, so she had a steep learning curve. But her star is rising. She and Kaden (Crozier) placed second in junior debate. Katy was second in junior prose and reached semi-finals of impromptu. The Keim family represents the bookends of my career here. It’s so wonderful to see the daughter of two very dear alums have such a glorious coming out party at Linfield.”
Linfield is one of the Northwest Forensics Conference regional championship tournaments, which conclude when the major awards are announced at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, in January. The Talking Saints have won or shared the regional crown for 33 consecutive years.