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Talkin’ Broncos Start Their Season With a Big Win in Twin Falls

Talkin' Broncos 2018
Talkin’ Broncos, 2018, photo by Allison Corona.

The Pi Kappa Delta national championship speech and debate team started their 2018-2019 season with their sixth consecutive tournament championship at the Fran Tanner Invitational hosted by the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Sept. 28-29.

The Boise State University Talkin’ Broncos won first place in overall sweepstakes at the tournament. The tournament included competitors from Utah State University, Northwest College, Northwest Nazarene University, College of Western Idaho, College of Southern Idaho, Lower Columbia College, Idaho State University and University of Idaho.

“This is our first tournament of the season, and we have 13 new team members, the biggest group of incoming team members I’ve ever had in my eight years as director,” said Manda Hicks, director of forensics. “To put that in perspective, I had three new team members last year. This team marks a significant new beginning in Boise State forensics. Both our new folks and our veterans had tremendous success, and that bodes well for the rest of the year and beyond.”

In a Boise State shut out in the final round of open public debate, Janice Witherspoon (senior, Caldwell) was the tournament champion and received the tournament’s third place speaker award. Jamie Mass (senior, Meridian) took second place and received the second place speaker award. Tate Volbrecht (sophomore, Billings, Montana) won the division’s only out round, finishing third overall and receiving the first place speaker award. Non-advancing, undefeated debaters included Kevin Trombly (junior, Boise), who received the seventh place speaker award; Asia Miller (senior, Green River, Wyoming); and Ximena Bustillo (junior, Nampa).

Kortni Clements (senior, Meridian) received the sixth place speaker award. Andrew Castro (junior, White Plains, New York), Brian Del Toro (freshman, Boise) and Kaelee Novich (junior, Nampa) took ninth, 10th, and 11th place respectively. In novice public debate, Ethan Romriell (freshman, Idaho Falls) received the eighth place speaker award and Cailey Rankin (senior, Bonners Ferry) received the 11th place speaker award.

In individual events, Volbrecht led the Talkin’ Broncos with three first-place awards in communication analysis, extemporaneous speaking, and impromptu speaking, and second place in persuasive speaking. Sam Haskell (senior, Tacoma, Washington) took first place in both duo interpretation and poetry interpretation and second place in both after-dinner speaking and prose interpretation. Clements took first place in both informative speaking and persuasive speaking. Witherspoon took first place in after-dinner speaking and second place in dramatic interpretation. Romriell took first place in dramatic interpretation and third place in duo interpretation. Bustillo took first place in program oral interpretation and fifth place in communication analysis. Rankin took first place in prose interpretation.

Other top competitors included: Castro, who took second place in poetry and third place in duo interpretation; Maas, who took second place in extemporaneous speaking and fourth place in persuasive speaking; Trombly, who took second place in impromptu speaking and fifth place in program oral interpretation; Connor Johnson (junior, Billings, Montana), who took third place in both persuasive speaking and extemporaneous speaking; Emma Freitas (freshman, Nampa), who took third place in both prose interpretation and impromptu speaking; Novich, who took third place in dramatic interpretation and sixth place in prose interpretation; Sergio Sarmiento (freshman, Nampa), who took fourth place in poetry interpretation and sixth place in after-dinner speaking; Kaitlyn Rogers (senior, Boise), who took fourth place in prose interpretation; and Del Toro, who took fifth place in both impromptu speaking and extemporaneous speaking.

Top novice competitor recognition went to: Julia Maas (freshman, Eagle) for after-dinner speaking; Gabe Guerrero (freshman, Shelley) for impromptu speaking; Freitas, for prose interpretation; and Rankin for both prose interpretation and impromptu speaking.

The Talkin’ Broncos continue their 2018-2019 season with their first conference tournament, the Steve Hunt Invitational, hosted by Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.  The Talkin’ Broncos are the 2017-2018 Pi Kappa Delta National Champions in Speech and Debate and are supported in part through the generosity of the Jeker Family Trust.

For more information about the Talkin’ Broncos, contact Manda Hicks, director of forensics at Boise State at