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Talkin’ Broncos Continue Winning Streak at Historic Mahaffey Memorial Tournament

Talkin' Broncos team photo
Talkin’ Broncos, group photo, Allison Corona photo.

The Pi Kappa Delta National Championship Boise State Speech and Debate team continue their 2018-2019 conference season with their eighth consecutive win at the 88th annual Mahaffey Memorial Tournament in McMinville, Oregon, Nov. 15-18.

The Talkin’ Broncos won first place in Overall Sweepstakes. The tournament featured more than 40 schools including Carroll College, University of Oregon, Western Washington University, College of Idaho, Whitworth University, Lewis and Clark College, College of Western Idaho, College of Southern Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University, George Fox University and Willamette University.

“This was a phenomenal showing from Boise State,” said Manda Hicks, director of forensics. “The tournament usually awards the sweepstakes trophy Sunday during debate finals, but this year the Talkin’ Broncos were so dominant in individual events that tabulation staff calculated that no other team would be able to catch up. They awarded the tournament trophy to Boise State before debate even began. On top of that, Boise State competitors brought home the two most coveted individual awards in the Northwest Forensics Conference: The Mahaffey Cup won by Ximena Bustillo and the Singletary Award won by Tate Volbrecht. It was just a beautiful tournament for Boise State.”

In Open Public Debate, Boise State advanced Connor Johnson (junior, Whitefish, Montana), Tate Volbrecht (junior, Whitefish, Montana), Samantha Haskell (senior, Tacoma, Washington), Zach Hill (junior, Kuna) and Andrew Castro (senior, White Plains, New York) to quarter-final rounds. Because each Boise State debater won their quarter-final round, the Talkin’ Broncos ‘closed out’ semi-final and final rounds of Open Public Debate. Johnson, who also received the third-place speaker award, was named the tournament champion, going undefeated in preliminary rounds and emerging as top seed. Volbrecht received the first-place speaker award and took second place in debate finals. Additionally, Volbrecht received the Singletary Award – an honor that recognizes the top debater across the tournament’s multiple formats of debate and hundreds of debate competitors. Johnson was runner-up for the award. Haskell received the second-place speaker award and took third place in debate finals. Hill received the seventh-place speaker award and took fourth place in debate finals. Castro received the ninth-place speaker award and was a quarter-finalist in debate finals.

In Open British Parliamentary Debate, the team of Janice Witherspoon (senior, Caldwell) and Kortni Clements (senior, Meridian) earned a winning record through preliminary rounds and went undefeated through single elimination outrounds to finish as finalists. Witherspoon received the sixth-place speaker award and Clements received the fourth-place speaker award.

In Open Parliamentary Debate, the team of Jamie Maas (senior, Meridian) and Ximena Bustillo (junior, Nampa) went undefeated in preliminary rounds and advanced through quarter and semifinalist rounds undefeated. They finished in second place, with Maas receiving the fifth-place speaker award. The team of Bianca Hanson (junior, Powell, Wyoming) and Jack McKinney (freshman, Idaho Falls) earned a winning record in preliminary rounds and finished as octo-finalists. Hanson received the fifth-place speaker award in junior division.

In Junior Public Debate, Boise State advanced Julia Maas (freshman, Eagle), Brian Del Toro (freshman, Boise), Kevin Trombly (junior, Boise) and Izzana Stoddard (junior, Boise) to final rounds. Del Toro and Maas finished as quarter finalists. Trombly and Stoddard won their semi final rounds, ‘closing out’ the division for Boise State. Trombly was recognized as the tournament champion in junior division and received the third-place speaker award. Stoddard finished in second place and received the seventh-place speaker award. Emma Frietas (freshman, Nampa) received the fourth place speaker award.

In Novice Public Debate, Alma Ceja (sophomore, Sun Valley) and Ethan Romriell (freshman, Pocatello) finished as octo-finalists. Cailey Rankin (senior, Bonner’s Ferry) finished as a quarter-finalist and received the first-place speaker award.

In Individual Events, Bustillo led the Talkin’ Broncos with second place finishes in program oral interpretation, communication analysis and impromptu speaking, third place in extemporaneous speaking and fifth place in after dinner speaking. Bustillo was the recipient of the Mahaffey Cup, awarded to the tournament’s top individual event competitor. Witherspoon took first place in extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking and dramatic interpretation, and was the runner up for the Mahaffey Cup. Trombly took first place in both junior impromptu speaking and junior extemporaneous speaking, and fifth place in program oral interpretation. Trombly was runner up for the Marshall Award, recognizing the top novice/junior competitor at the tournament. Sergio Sarmiento (freshman, Nampa) took first place in junior after dinner speaking, third place in junior poetry interpretation and sixth place in junior extemporaneous speaking. Clements took first place in both persuasive speaking and informative speaking, receiving a rare first-place ranking from every judge in final rounds for both events. Freitas took first place in both duo interpretation and junior prose interpretation, sixth place in junior impromptu and was the second runner up for the Marshall Award. Volbrecht took first place in communication analysis and fifth place in persuasive speaking. Ceja took first place in duo interpretation and second place in junior dramatic interpretation. Kaelee Novich (junior, Nampa) took first place in prose interpretation. Rankin took first place in novice prose interpretation.

Other top competitors included Castro, who took second place in prose interpretation, fourth place in dramatic interpretation, fifth place in poetry interpretation and sixth place in duo interpretation; Asia Miller (senior, Green River, Wyoming), who took second place in after dinner speaking, fourth place in duo interpretation and sixth place in poetry interpretation; Julia Maas, who took second place in novice impromptu speaking, fourth place in junior after dinner speaking and fifth place in novice extemporaneous speaking; Del Toro, who took second place in both junior extemporaneous speaking and novice informative speaking; Haskell, who took third place in after dinner speaking, poetry interpretation, prose interpretation and fourth place in duo interpretation, and was the second runner up for the Mahaffey Cup; Kaitlyn Rogers (senior, Boise), who took third place in communication analysis, and sixth place in persuasive speaking, prose interpretation and program oral interpretation; Jamie Maas, who took third place in persuasive speaking and fourth place in extemporaneous speaking; Stoddard, who took third place in junior impromptu speaking; Hanson, who took third place in junior persuasive speaking; Gabe Guerrero (freshman, Shelley), who took sixth place in novice impromptu speaking; and Romriell, who took sixth place in duo interpretation.

The Talkin’ Broncos continue their 2018-2019 season with their first national tournament, the Gorlok Gala at Webster University, in St Louis, Missouri, Jan. 25-27. 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 Hicks at