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Speech and Debate Team Opens Season with Big Win

By: Cienna Madrid   Published 11:24 am / September 26, 2016

Portrait of the 2016-17 debate team

2016-17 Talkin’ Broncos, photo by Allison Corona








The Pi Kappa Delta National Champion Boise State Speech and Debate team kicked off its 2016-17 season with a strong performance at the Northwest Nazarene Season Opener Forensics Tournament in Nampa Sept. 23-24. Competing with five other schools from Idaho and Utah, the Talkin’ Broncos closed out (took first, second and third) six events, closed out (took first through fifth-place) open debate, and placed first in overall sweepstakes.

Aside from Boise State’s first-place team, participating teams in the pre-conference included College of Southern Idaho, College of Western Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University, College of Idaho, and Utah State University (Logan).

“This is our biggest, youngest team in my time as director,” said director of forensics Manda Hicks. “We have 15 first-year students on the team – so it’s exciting to think about how they will shape the team over the next few years, and vice versa. Their performance in Nampa just adds to that excitement.”

In Open Public Debate, Scott Ludwig (junior, Pocatello) was the tournament champion with an undefeated preliminary record and the first place-speaker award. In Novice Public Debate, Steve Silva (senior, Boise) was the tournament champion with an undefeated preliminary record and the first-place speaker award.

The Talkin’ Broncos had multiple undefeated preliminary records in debate: Ryan Orlando (junior, Meridian) in second place overall; Brock Arnold (sophomore, Meridian) in third place overall; Tate Volbrecht (freshman, Billings, Montana) in fourth place overall; and Kacie Hoch (senior, Mountain Home) in fifth place overall. Brittany Roell (freshman, Nampa) received the third-place speaker award in novice debate.

In individual events, Janice Witherspoon (sophomore, Caldwell) led the Talkin’ Broncos in scoring with first-place finishes in dramatic interpretation and after dinner speaking, and a fourth-place finish in impromptu speaking. Mallory Clark (junior, Boise) took first place in poetry interpretation and duo interpretation. Mackenzie Moss (junior, Boise) took first place in communication analysis, second place in extemporaneous speaking, and third place in after dinner speaking. Sam Haskell (Tacoma, Washington) took first place in duo interpretation and second place in poetry interpretation. Daniel Gardner (junior, Twin Falls) took first place in prose interpretation and third place in dramatic interpretation. Justin Henry (senior, Kennewick, Washington) took first place in impromptu speaking.

Other top competitors include: Orlando, who took second place in duo interpretation, third place in both poetry interpretation and extemporaneous speaking, and sixth place in impromptu speaking; Hailie Johnson-Waskow (junior, Nampa), who took second place in both program oral interpretation and duo interpretation; Kaitlyn Rogers (junior, Boise), who took second place in both prose interpretation and communication analysis; Ximena Bustillo (freshman, Nampa), who took second place in persuasive speaking; Hunter Carson, (junior, Nampa), who took second place in dramatic interpretation; Volbrecht, who took second place in after dinner speaking; Lauren Peña (junior, Meridian), who took third place in program oral interpretation and fifth place in impromptu speaking; Cate Floate (senior, Meridian), who took third place in persuasive speaking; Ludwig, who took third place in prose interpretation; Madison Grady (junior, Whitefish, Montana), who took sixth place in extemporaneous speaking; and Zach Hill (freshman, Kuna), who was a finalist in extemporaneous speaking.

The Talkin’ Broncos continue their season with their first conference tournament Oct. 7-9 — the Steve Hunt Invitational at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

The Talkin’ Broncos are the reigning 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