Skip to main content

Talkin’ Broncos start regional competition with win at Fran Tanner Open

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

The Pi Kappa Delta National Championship Boise State Speech and Debate team started their 2019-20 season with their seventh-consecutive tournament championship at the Fran Tanner Open hosted by the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls in September. The 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 11 new team members – last year we had 13, the biggest group of incoming team members I’ve ever had,” said Manda Hicks, director of forensics. “In a word, we are a very young team. And the success of both our new folks and our veterans at this tournament bodes well for the rest of the competitive year.”

In Open Team Public Debate, fourth seed team Kaelee Novich (senior, Nampa) and Emma Freitas (sophomore, Nampa) beat the top seed in semi-finals, creating a Boise State shut out in finals made up of second seed team Ximena Bustillo (junior, Nampa) and Alex Hobson (freshman, Boise) and third seed team Bianca Hanson (senior, Powell, WY) and Brian Del Toro (sophomore, Boise). Bustillo was recognized as the tournament’s top speaker, with Hobson receiving the sixth-place speaker award, Freitas receiving the seventh-place speaker award, Del Toro receiving the eighth-place speaker award, Novich winning 10th place and Hanson winning 11th place.

In Open Public Debate, Zach Hill (senior, Kuna) was the tournament champion and received the second-place speaker award. Tate Volbrecht (senior, Billings, MT) was the tournament champion runner-up and received the first-place speaker award. Kevin Trombly (junior, Boise) and Izanna Stoddard (senior, Boise) were the tournament’s second runners-up, with Trombly winning the fifth-place speaker award and Stoddard winning the seventh-place speaker award. Bryce Funkhauser (junior, Meridian) won the 10th-place speaker award.

In Novice Public Debate, Justin Lindsay (freshman, Ridgefield, WA) and Madison Martin (freshman, Oceanside, CA) both were tournament champion runners-up, with Lindsay receiving the third-place speaker award and Martin receiving the fifth-place speaker award. Edson Valdisimo (sophomore, Saipan, CNMI) was recognized for his non-advancing winning record.

In Individual Events, Stoddard led the Talkin’ Broncos with two first-place awards in both informative speaking and persuasive speaking. Funkhauser took first place in communication analysis, second place in impromptu speaking, and third place in extemporaneous speaking. Hill took first place in prose interpretation and second place in extemporaneous speaking. Trombly took first place in extemporaneous speaking and third-place in both impromptu speaking and prose interpretation.

Bustillo took first place in program oral interpretation, fourth place in extemporaneous speaking, and fifth place in impromptu speaking. Sergio Sarmiento (sophomore, Nampa) took first place in poetry interpretation. Julia Maas (sophomore, Meridian) took first place in after-dinner speaking. Volbrecht took first place in impromptu speaking.

Other top competitors included: Novich, who took second place in prose interpretation and third place in poetry interpretation; Brie Ellison (sophomore, Eagle), who took second place in persuasive speaking; Gabe Guerrero (sophomore, Shelley), who took second place in program oral interpretation; Alma Ceja (junior, Hailey), who took third place in program oral interpretation; Martin, who took fourth place in dramatic interpretation; Hobson, who took fourth place in impromptu speaking; Dylan Pope (freshman, Blackfoot), who took fifth place in prose interpretation; and Ethan Romriell (sophomore, Pocatello) who took fifth place in program oral interpretation.

The Talkin’ Broncos continue their season with their first conference tournament, the Steve Hunt Invitational, hosted by Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

The Talkin’ Broncos are the 2019-20 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 Hick at