LC Speech and Debate team students face of during one of the first tournaments of the 2015-2016 academic year. (Maggie Coit/Pioneer Log)

Speech & Debate qualify over Fall Break

Both coaches and team members preparing and anticipating for the next tournament at the University of Puget Sound


LEWIS & CLARK College’s forensics teams fought hard in the Steve Hunt Classic debate tournament last weekend which featured forty-eight schools. Out of the 26 events the LC forensics team competed in, 16 of those events qualified the Pioneers into the final round.

With ten LC students competing in 26 events on the speech side of the tournament, Claire Crossman ‘17 helped lead the way, finishing as the top varsity speaker in the whole tournament. Jacob Wisda ‘18 was not far behind, accumulating enough points to come in second.

LC’s strongest event was “After Dinner Speaking,” which is a ten minute memorized humorous persuasive speech with Ben Soleim ‘17, a reporter for the Pioneer Log, coming in first place, Crossman in second, Decker O’Donnel ‘18 in third, and Wisda finished fourth.

LC’s forensics team is coming off of a successful performance at San Francisco State, where they finished as the second overall team in the tournament.

Upon reflection, the Director of Forensics Joseph Gantt felt confidant in his team’s performance. “I am very proud of our team this weekend,” Gantt said. “This was a very large and competitive tournament, and our students were among the best at both speech and debate. What is even more exciting is that the team is still very young. We have a lot of room to grow even further and I expect to see that in the coming months.”

“I was incredibly proud of the Pioneers,” said Robi Mahan, one coach of the LC team. “This is the best we’ve done at a home tournament in recent memory. Ben Soleim insured we remain undefeated in After Dinner Speaking and Claire Crossman was the tournament’s highest varsity speaker.”

Mahan and his cohort Ryan Tinlin are former national champions in forensics and are now coaching the LC team.

In regards to the debate side of the tournament, there were several teams that advanced to the octofinals, but none that placed. Among those were the teams of Carlton Bone ‘18 and William Woods ‘19, Mikayla Parsons ‘18 and Taylor Knudson ‘18, and Sarah McDonagh ‘18 and Hannah Mathieson ‘17.

“I think the biggest challenge of any competition is the uncertainty of every round. You only get 20 minutes to prepare, and you have no idea what the other team will say, so many times all of the work you did during preparation might go right out the window and you’ll just have to start thinking on your feet,” said McDonagh, looking back on the tournament. “But that’s also one of the cool things about debate. There’s definitely an element of creative thinking that having debates like that sharpens.”

Half-way through the tournament, Asher Kalman ‘18 — who finished in fifth place in impromptu speaking — confessed with slight sarcasm, “you have to give 110%, one day at a time.”

Forensics has two components to it: speech, which is an individual event involving the recitation of a memorized speech; and debate, where teams argue and discuss various issues and arguments in competition with another team.

Looking ahead, McDonagh looks forward to the next tournament: “I’m excited for the next tournament. It’s at University of Puget Sound. I don’t really know what to say beyond that…I sort of feel the same about every tournament we go to. Except the location is preferable to, say, Kansas City, where we also compete. At least Seattle is sort of pretty and not humid and disgusting like Missouri.”

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