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Continued Successes for the Talkin’ Broncos

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

The Pi Kappa Delta National Championship Boise State Speech and Debate team continued their 2018-19 season with another strong showing at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. This secures yet another win as they prepare for the upcoming Pi Kappa Delta Nationals at Hofstra University in New York.

The Talkin’ Broncos won first place in Overall Sweepstakes and first place in Individual Event Sweepstakes. The tournament featured more than 40 schools including Illinois State University, Lewis and Clark University, Purdue, Simpson College, Texas A&M and University of Western Kentucky.

“The Talkin’ Broncos impress once again by showing how versatile they are in conjunction with adapting to a different judging pool,” said Amy Arellano, interim director of forensics. “Gorlok sets the stage for our spring push towards nationals as the tournament is filled with Pi Kappa Delta schools. In a lot of ways, the tournament serves as an indicator on how well nationals will go. With winning both the individual events sweepstake award and receiving the award for top Pi Kappa Delta chapter, the Talkin’ Broncos definitely are on the path for success.”

In Open Public Forum Debate, Boise State advanced Connor Johnson (junior, Whitefish, Montana) and Ximena Bustillo (junior, Nampa), and Sergio Sarmiento (freshman, Nampa) and Kevin Trombly (junior, Boise) to quarter-finals. Boise State then closed out PF finals with the teams of: Zach Hill (junior, Kuna) and Julia Maas (freshman, Eagle), and Jamie Maas (senior, Meridian) and Kaelee Novich (junior, Nampa). Taking home both first and second place in PF was huge: the Talkin’ Broncos went against programs that practice this format of debate all year long. Walking away with top speaker awards included: Julia Maas in thirteenth place, Emma Freitas (freshman, Nampa) in twelfth place, Kaelee Novich in eleventh place, Connor Johnson in seventh place, Ximena Bustillo in fourth place, Zach Hill in third place and Jamie Maas as the winning top speaker.

In Open Parliamentary Debate, the team of Jamie Maas and Ximena Bustillo advanced into elimination rounds, finishing the tournament as quarter-finalists. Bianca Hanson (sophomore, Powell, Wyoming) received the seventh-place speaker award in junior division. Brian DelTorro (freshman, Boise) earned the sixth-place speaker award in the junior division.

In individual events, the Talkin’ Broncos continued to shine. In persuasive speaking, Johnson placed seventh, Kaitlyn Rogers (senior, Boise) placed sixth, Kortni Clements (senior, Meridian) finished in fourth place, while Jamie Maas finished with second place. In dramatic interpretation, Ethan Romriell (freshman, Pocatello) received seventh place. Sam Haskell (senior, Tacoma, Washington) received fourth place. Izanna Stoddard was a semifinalist in prose interpretation. In poetry interpretation, Haskell placed fifth and Sarmiento placed fourth.

The Broncos continued their strong presence within final rounds by holding four of the seven finalist positions within duo improv. Placings include Julia Maas and Gabe Guerrero (freshman, Shelly) in seventh, Eddy Encinas (sophomore, Jerome) and Romriell in fourth place, Alma Cejas (freshman, Sun Valley) and Haskell earned second, while Janice Witherspoon (senior, Caldwell) and Novich finished in first place. Guerrero took top novice in After Dinner speaking.

Additional finishes within individual events include: Rogers placing sixth within communication analysis and fifth in program of oral interpretation; Haskell and Asia Miller (senior, Green River, Wyoming) were tournament champions in duo interpretation. In impromptu speaking, Jamie Maas finished as a semi-finalist, DelToro finished in sixth place, Volbrecht in third and Witherspoon won first. In extemporaneous speaking, Volbrecht and Trombly finished as semifinalists, Bustillo placed sixth and Jamie Maas was champion.
Three Broncos earned top finishes for the tournament as Boise State captured three of the top five recognitions for top individual at the tournament. Haskell led the Broncos finishing as top speaker overall, followed by Witherspoon in second and Maas in third.

Two Talkin’ Broncos Achieve New Milestone in Parliamentary Debate

Partners Jamie Maas (senior, Boise) and Ximena Bustillo (junior, Nampa) have earned top national rankings within parliamentary debate. The duo currently is ranked seventh among all parliamentary debate partnerships in the nation.

“This comes as a huge accomplishment for both Jamie and Ximena. The highest ranking of any previous Boise State parliamentary team was 37th,” Arellano said.

This feat also proves quality is more important than quantity. While many of the teams reviewed by the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence travel to tournaments every weekend to fight for their place within the rankings, Maas and Bustillo accomplished breaking into the top ten in only four tournaments.

When asked what role debate has had in his life, Maas said, “Debate is probably the hardest activity I have ever participated in. To be successful, you have to know something about everything and be able to articulate it in the right spot quickly and concisely. In such a competitive, fast paced and merciless environment, I am deeply proud of our ability to compete and hold our own against other top schools and competitors. I’m proud to be a bronco, I’m proud of my public school education and I’m excited to carry these experiences with me to Georgetown next fall.”

Bustillo agreed: “I have always said that debate has been by far the most educational thing I have ever done. I have been given a platform to advocate for myself, for my partner Jamie and for my beliefs. These are experiences that I am going to hold on to.”

The parliamentary debate squad is preparing for their national tournament in March hosted by University of Utah. For more information about the Talkin’ Broncos, contact  Manda Hicks at or Arellano at