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Boise State Talkin’ Broncos Win Fourth Consecutive National Championship

By: Cienna Madrid   Published 11:00 am / March 27, 2017

Portrait of the 2016-17 debate team

2016-17 Talkin’ Broncos, photo by Allison Corona

The Boise State Talkin’ Broncos won their fourth consecutive national championship at the 50th Biennial Pi Kappa Delta Speech and Debate National Tournament held on the Boise State campus March 21-25. During the tournament, 72 schools from across the country competed in more than 20 different speech and debate events.

“This is another national championship for the Talkin’ Broncos, which is huge in itself, but we also swept every sweepstakes award –meaning, we took first place overall, but we also took first place in debate sweepstakes and first place in individual events sweepstakes,” said Manda Hicks, Boise State’s director of forensics. “Those awards all use different calculations and it is rare for a school to have the depth and breadth to win all three. We are a comprehensive program that can really do it all and we just tore it up.”

Boise State had tournament champions in five events: Mackenzie Moss (junior, Boise) and Ryan Orlando (senior, Meridian) in public forum debate; Orlando and Jamie Maas (junior, Meridian) in parliamentary debate; Moss in extemporaneous speaking; Steve Silva (senior, Boise) in persuasive speaking; and Luke Yeates (senior, Boise) in broadcast journalism.

Boise State had finalists across three different formats of debate, with Yeates as the finalist in public debate, Mallory Clark (junior, Boise) as a semi-finalist in public debate, Brock Arnold (sophomore, Boise) as a semi-finalist in public forum debate, Tate Volbrecht (freshman, Billings) as a semi-finalist in both public debate and public forum debate, Yeates, Hunter Carson (junior, Nampa), Maas and Hailie Johnson-Waskow (junior, Nampa) as quarter-finalists in public forum debate, and Silva and Kaelee Novich (freshman, Nampa) as quarter-finalists in public debate.

Additionally, Yeates, Moss and Catherine Floate (senior, Meridian) were recognized as Pi Kappa Delta All-Americans, an honor bestowed upon only ten students every two years. Pi Kappa Delta All-Americans are students who demonstrate excellence in academics, competition, community service and character.

“Having one All-American on the team is huge,” Hicks said. “Having three really says something about the special quality of Boise State forensics.”

Pi Kappa Delta recognizes the top 10 percent of approximately 700 competitors across more than 2,000 entries with Superior awards, and the next 20 percent with Excellent awards. Team president Yeates led the Talkin’ Broncos with five Superior awards in broadcast journalism, extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking, interviewing, and public forum debate, and an Excellent award in public debate. Other top competitors included: Orlando, who took Superior awards in public forum debate, parliamentary debate, extemporaneous speaking and interviewing; Clark, who took a Superior award in both public debate and broadcast journalism, and Excellent awards in prose interpretation, duo interpretation and poetry interpretation; Brandon Sams (senior, Mountain Home), who took Superior awards in both congress and discussion, and Excellent awards in informative speaking and extemporaneous speaking; Janice Witherspoon (sophomore, Caldwell), who took Superior awards in both student congress and literary criticism, and Excellent awards in impromptu speaking and discussion; Zach Hill (freshman, Kuna), who took Superior awards in both broadcast journalism and extemporaneous speaking, and Excellent awards in persuasive speaking and public debate; Madison Grady (junior, Whitefish, Montana), who took Superior awards in both informative speaking and extemporaneous speaking, and an Excellent award in public debate; Silva, who took Superior awards in both persuasive speaking and public debate, and an Excellent in prose interpretation; Moss, who took Superior awards in both public forum debate and extemporaneous speaking, and an Excellent in communication analysis; Johnson-Waskow, who took Superior awards in both public forum debate and informative speaking; Carson, who took Superior awards in both public forum debate and prose interpretation; Volbrecht who took a Superior award in public forum debate and Excellent awards in broadcast journalism, impromptu speaking, public debate and after dinner speaking; Scott Ludwig (senior, Pocatello), who took a Superior award in broadcast journalism and Excellent awards in Public Debate, literary criticism and dramatic interpretation;  Justin Fields (senior, Boise), who took a Superior award in congress, and Excellent awards in after dinner speaking, informative speaking and impromptu speaking; Arnold, who took a Superior award in public forum debate, and Excellent awards in both extemporaneous speaking and literary criticism; Floate, who took a Superior award in persuasive speaking; Kortni Clements (sophomore, Meridian), who took a Superior award in informative speaking; Novich, who took a Superior award in public debate; Connor Johnson (freshman, Billings, Montana), who took Excellent awards in extemporaneous speaking, persuasive speaking, interviewing and public forum debate;  Daniel Gardner (junior, Twin Falls), who took Excellent awards in public debate, dramatic interpretation and poetry interpretation; Justin Henry (senior, Kennewick, WA), who took Excellent awards in both interviewing and extemporaneous speaking; Kacie Hoch (senior, Boise), who took Excellent awards in both dramatic interpretation an interviewing; Ximena Bustillo (freshman, Meridian), who took Excellent awards in both public debate and public forum debate; Lauren Peña (junior, Meridian), who took Excellent awards in both dramatic interpretation and impromptu speaking; Samantha Haskell (junior, Tacoma, Washington), who took Excellent awards in both broadcast journalism and duo interpretation; and Andde Mendez (junior, Nampa) and Elizabeth Popp (junior, Columbia, Missouri), who both took an Excellent award in discussion.

The Talkin’ Broncos end their season as the 2017-18 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 Manda Hicks, director of forensics at Boise State, at mandahicks@boisestate.edu.