March 19, 2019

L&C parliamentary debate finishes in final four nationally

Mary Talamantez was named the 2nd place speaker in the nation and Kate McDonagh placed 5th, as the L&C parliamentary debate team made it to the semifinal round nationally.

For much of the academic year, students on the Lewis & Clark forensics team travel to invitational competitions across the region and nation, preparing for year-end national competitions in March and April.

The Lewis & Clark parliamentary debate team of Kate McDonagh (CAS ’20) and Mary Talamantez (CAS ’21) ensured that nationals season would start off with a flourish, advancing to the semifinal round of the NPDA Championship Tournament, held March 15-17, 2019 in Salt Lake City. Talamantez was named the 2nd place speaker in the nation, while McDonagh placed 5th.

The NPDA tournament is one of the largest collegiate debate tournaments held annually, open to all who register. This year 100 teams from 35 schools across the nation competed in the tournament, which was held at the University of Utah.

Eight preliminary debates were held in order to qualify for a single elimination bracket. McDonagh and Talamantez finished those debates with a 7-1 record, defeating teams from the University of Minnesota, St Mary’s College, and Rice University along the way. In elimination rounds, they won debates with Western Washington, UC Berkeley and Concordia University-Irvine before falling in semifinals to an eventual national champion joint team from Western Washington and UC Berkeley. It was the first time since 2005 that an L&C team had made it to semifinals at the NPDA Championship.

Along with team honors, the NPDA tournament awards debaters as individuals for their speaking excellence. Out of 200 speakers at the tournament, Talamantez earned 2nd place nationally, which is L&C’s highest speaker placement in the 18 years that the college has attended the NPDA Tournament. Not far behind was partner McDonagh, who finished 5th. 

Head coach Joe Gantt said of the pair’s accomplishment, “I am so incredibly proud of Mary & Kate. The NPDA tournament is large and unpredictable, but they were able to stay incredibly focused to get to the semifinal round. Moreover, these are two individuals who approach the activity with intellectual depth, inspired argumentation, and ethical strength. They represented Lewis & Clark exceptionally well.”

McDonagh and Talamantez have one more tournament remaining, as they will compete at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence in Reno, NV March 21-23. The NPTE is a qualification based tournament open only to teams who are highly ranked at the end of the regular season. Many other L&C students will also begin nationals competition over the next three weeks as well, including those who compete in speech events and Lincoln-Douglas debate.