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Lewis & Clark forensics earns top two places in both speech and debate at Linfield tournament

November 13, 2017

  • Decker O'Donnell with the Mahaffey trophy

Linfield College

The Lewis & Clark forensics team swept the top two places in both speech and debate at the Mahaffey Memorial Tournament, held at Linfield College November 10-12, 2017. The  tournament is the second oldest continuously operating forensics tournament in the nation, and is one of three tournaments designated as regional championships by the Northwest Forensics Conference.

The most prestigious award at the tournament is the namesake Mahaffey trophy, given to the top individual events speaker at the tournament. This year’s trophy went to Lewis & Clark’s Decker O’Donnell (CAS ’18), who narrowly edged out his teammate, Jacob Wisda (CAS ’18), for the top spot.

O’Donnell earned the Mahaffey with a comprehensive set of performances, advancing to final rounds in all six of his individual events. He finished in first place in Impromptu Speaking and Persuasive Speaking, second place in Extemporaneous Speaking and After-Dinner Speaking, and fourth place in Informative Speaking and Dramatic Interpretation.

Wisda, the winner of the award in 2015 and 2016, finished closely behind O’Donnell as he was the 2nd place finisher in Impromptu Speaking and Communication Analysis, third place in Informative Speaking and After-Dinner Speaking, and fourth place in Persuasive Speaking.

Between Wisda and O’Donnell, Lewis & Clark has won the Mahaffey award for three straight years. The last school to win the award in three consecutive years was also Lewis & Clark, 42 years ago (1972-1975).

In parliamentary debate, the teams of Sarah McDonagh (CAS ’18)/Mikayla Parsons (CAS ’18) and Sophie Picton (CAS ’18)/Colin Gesik (CAS ’20) took both finalist spots to share top honors. McDonagh and Parsons were undefeated throughout the tournament, winning over a team from the University of Oregon to earn their finalist spot. Picton and Gesik defeated a team from Boise State University to join them in closing out the tournament.

It is the second time in three years that Lewis & Clark won both finalist spots at the Linfield tournament. Additionally, with their performance at the tournament, McDonagh and Parsons advanced in the season long rankings to become the second ranked team in the nation according to the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence.

There were many other standout accomplishments across the entire team as well, which included:

Individual Events

Ally Knighton (CAS ’21)- 1st place Poetry Interpretation, 2nd Place Duo Interpretation

Basil Hawley (CAS ’19)- 1st place Extemporaneous Speaking, 2nd place Duo Interpretation, 6th place Informative Speaking

Mary Talamantez (CAS ’21)- 5th place Extemporaneous Speaking


Parliamentary Debate

Quarterfinalists- Talamantez/Jarely Castro (CAS ’19) and Brandon Roth (CAS ’20)/Charlie Brothersen (CAS ’19)

Octofinalists- Kate McDonagh (CAS ’20)/Austin Smith (CAS ’20)


British Parliamentary Debate

2nd place- Wisda/Hawley


The Lewis & Clark forensics team finishes its fall semester December 2-3 at the Smelt Classic, held at Lower Columbia College.

For more information:

Joe Gantt
Director of Forensics