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Speech and Debate

Lewis & Clark debate team ranked first in nation

November 03, 2015

  • Speech competitors after successful Whitworth tournaments

With strong performances at their first four tournaments, the Lewis & Clark debate squad is ranked first in the nation according to the November 2 rankings released by the National Parliamentary Debate Association (

The NPDA rankings are composed of results from invitational tournaments across the nation and reward excellence as a squad. Instead of ranking each individual team, the NPDA rankings take the performance of a school’s top four teams at each tournament into account in order to arrive at the results.

Lewis & Clark’s position at the top of the rankings comes largely because of the depth of the program. Another set of rankings published by the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (, which ranks each debate team separately, has three L&C teams among the top 18 in the nation:

    • The team of Hannah Mathieson (’17) and Sarah McDonagh (’18) are currently ranked fifth in the nation. They have finished in semifinals at three tournaments, including a semifinals appearance at the most recent tournament held at the University of Puget Sound.
    • The team of Carlton Bone (’18) and William Woods (’19) are currently ranked seventh in the nation. They have advanced to semifinals at two tournaments, also finishing in semifinals at UPS.
    • The team of Taylor Knudson (’18) and Mikayla Parsons (’18) are currently ranked 18th in the nation. They have finished among the top sixteen teams at all four tournaments this season.


All three of the teams have qualified for the season-ending National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence. Lewis & Clark is the only school nationally to have three teams qualified at this point of the season.

Also contributing to the first place ranking is the team of Asher Kalman (’18) and Charlie Brothersen (’19) who have advanced to elimination debates at two of their three tournaments this season, as well as the team of Nya Phillips (’19) and Kaz McKinney (’19) who advanced to semifinals of the junior varsity division at UPS.

Director of Forensics Joe Gantt was proud of the squad’s performance to this point. “Rankings are a nice affirmation of the excellent work these students have done so far this season. We know that there are a number of schools who will certainly be challenging our standing in the coming months, but we plan to keep working hard to maintain the success that we have had to this point.”

Speech continues strong start at Whitworth

The speech competitors on Lewis & Clark’s team are also having an incredible start to their season. Three competitors have already qualified events to the season ending National Individual Events Tournament:

    • Jacob Wisda (’18) has qualified for nationals in Extemporaneous Speaking, Impromptu Speaking, Communication Analysis, Persuasive Speaking and After-Dinner Speaking.
    • Claire Crossman (’17) has qualified for nationals in After-Dinner Speaking, Prose Interpretation and Dramatic Interpretation.
    • Decker O’Donnell (’18) has qualified for nationals in After-Dinner Speaking and Informative Speaking.


The ten events qualified to the NIET are well ahead of last year’s pace, and 14 more events have made significant progress toward qualification. At the most recent two tournaments held at Whitworth University, L&C competitors entered nine different events and finished in first or second place in each of the events across the two days. Among the standout competitors:

    • Wisda finished first in Communication Analysis at both tournaments and won in both Impromptu Speaking and Persuasive Speaking at the first tournament
    • The Duo Interpretation team of Crossman and O’Donnell won at both tournaments
    • Crossman also finished in first place in After-Dinner Speaking at the first tournament and placed second in Prose and Dramatic Interpretation
    • O’Donnell also placed second in Informative Speaking at the first tournament
    • Ben Soleim (’17) finished in first place in After-Dinner Speaking at the first tournament and second in Impromptu Speaking
    • Connor Meckfessel (’18) placed first in Extemporaneous Speaking at the second tournament
    • Brady Quick (’19) placed second in Informative Speaking at the second tournament
    • Britta Garza (’19) finished fourth in After-Dinner Speaking


Gantt also commented on the speech performances. “These competitors are performing at an extremely high level this season. We have things to say about a variety of important topics, and I am glad that the students have found such success in their advocacies. I look forward to seeing what this team is capable of as the season progresses.”


For more information:

Joe Gantt
Director of Forensics
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