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Talkin’ Broncos kick off conference season with Portland win

Talkin' Broncos team photo
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 conference season with their ninth consecutive tournament championship at the Steve Hunt Invitational hosted by Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon Oct. 11-13.

The Talkin’ Broncos won first place in Overall Sweepstakes, first place in Individual Events Sweepstakes, and first place in Debate Sweepstakes. More than 20 schools attended the prestigious tournament, including the University of California-Berkeley, Rice University, Oregon State University, Willamette University, Gonzaga University, University of Utah and College of Idaho.

“Twenty-one of our 26 Talkin’ Broncos are in their first or second year on the team – that’s less than 14 months’ experience for the majority of our competitors,” said Manda Hicks, director of forensics. “For such a young team to win each division of sweepstakes at Lewis and Clark is beyond impressive – it’s stunning.”

In Open Public Debate, Boise State advanced six competitors to octo-finals and closed out the tournament with two Boise State wins in semi-finals.

“A closeout is when all the remaining competitors in a bracket are from one school,” Hicks explained. “At that point, we stop debating and use preliminary round records to determine final ranking.”

Connor Johnson (senior, Billings, Montana) was the number one seed with an undefeated 6-0 record, making him the tournament champion. Johnson also received the 10th-place speaker award. Tate Volbrecht (senior, Billings, Montana), Zach Hill (senior, Kuna) and Izanna Stoddard (senior, Boise) were the tournament finalists and semi-finalists, with Volbrecht winning the second-place speaker award, Stoddard winning the third-place speaker award and Hill winning the fifth-place speaker award.

Bryce Funkhauser (junior, Meridian) was a quarter-finalist and won the first-place speaker award. Alex Watt (junior, Boise) was an octo-finalist and Kevin Trombly (junior, Boise) won the seventh-place speaker award.

In Junior Public Debate, Dylan Pope (freshman, Blackfoot) advanced to the final round and was the tournament champion runner-up. Pope received the second-place speaker award. Gabe Guerrero (sophomore, Shelley), Sergio Sarmiento (sophomore, Nampa) and Cora Knueven (freshman, Meridian) finished as quarter-finalists, with Sarmiento winning the third-place speaker award.

In Novice Public Debate, Justin Lindsay (freshman, Ridgefield, Washington) and Madison Martin (freshman, Oceanside, California), advanced through outrounds and finished as semi-finalists, with Martin receiving the 10th-place speaker award and Edson Valdisimo (sophomore, Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) recognized with the second-place speaker award.

In Open British Parliamentary Debate, the team of team Kaelee Novich (senior, Nampa) and Emma Freitas (sophomore, Nampa) advanced to semi-finals, with Freitas winning the seventh-place speaker award.

In Individual Events, Stoddard led the Talkin’ Broncos with two first-place awards in both informative speaking and persuasive speaking. Additionally, Stoddard was recognized as the tournament’s fourth-best individual event competitor overall. Martin took first place in junior prose interpretation and second place in dramatic interpretation. Alma Ceja (junior, Hailey) took first place in duo interpretation and fourth place in program oral interpretation. Freitas took first place in duo interpretation and fourth place in junior impromptu speaking. Brian Del Toro (sophomore, Boise) took first place in junior impromptu speaking and was recognized as the top junior competitor in informative speaking. Valdisimo was recognized as the top novice competitor in prose interpretation and took second place in the junior division.

Other top competitors included: Funkhauser, who took second place in communication analysis, fourth place in extemporaneous speaking, and fifth place in dramatic interpretation; Novich, who took second place in poetry interpretation and third place in informative speaking; Volbrecht, who took second place in persuasive speaking and third place in communication analysis; Johnson, who took second place in program oral interpretation; Alex Hobson (freshman, Boise), who took second place in junior impromptu speaking; Julia Maas (sophomore, Meridian), who took third place in both after-dinner speaking and junior impromptu speaking; Pope, who took third place in junior prose interpretation and fifth place in junior impromptu; Ximena Bustillo (senior, Nampa), who took third place in program oral interpretation; Kneuven, who took fourth place in junior prose interpretation; Lindsay, who took fifth place in novice persuasive speaking and sixth place in junior impromptu speaking; Trombly, who took fifth place in prose interpretation; Sarmiento, who took sixth place in junior extemporaneous speaking; and Watt, who took sixth place in impromptu speaking.

The Talkin’ Broncos continue their 2019-20 season with their second conference tournament, the Mahaffey Memorial, hosted by Linfield College in McMinville, 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 Hicks at