Speech and Debate compete in Webster University’s Gorlok Invitational


Photo submitted by Spencer Waugh

by Rachel Neumann, Staff Reporter

The Simpson College Speech and Debate team earned 29 awards during a  three-day weekend at Webster University’s Gorlok Invitational on Jan. 26 and 27.

Out of the 38 colleges and universities present, Simpson finished third overall in the speech and debate sweepstakes.

In the Public Forum Debate, Danielle Blake and Casey Spring triumphed as champions over the University of Central Missouri and finished the division 6-0. Blake also earned top public forum debate speaker at the competition.

Spring accredited their success to the Storm’s team-first approach in practice.

“When we are preparing for tournaments,” Spring said, “we work on cases together and find evidence together as a team. That sets you up to be really prepared to not only have a lot of evidence going into rounds but when you work together you have a lot of opinions coming in on what other people might run or stay.”

Despite limited topic preparation in parliamentary debate, Simpson managed to find success.

Elise Sturgeon and partner Kylie Doupnik ended with a perfect 9-0 record after defeating Hillside College in the championship round of junior varsity parliament debate. The pair discussed the topic of overturning Citizens United.

At the biggest tournament before nationals, the duo went into their first competition together with minimal expectations.

“I wasn’t sure how it was going to work,” Sturgeon said. “I was there to do the best that I could possibly do, but then Kylie and I just clicked incredibly well and kept winning our rounds. We were the top-seed coming out of our five preliminary rounds. Then going into finals, we won our three out rounds.”

As well as her team success, Sturgeon earned top speaker in the JV parliamentary debate. For this award, the judges rank contestants from 1 to 30 on how well they spoke.

Although not every speaker took home first place, other victories were found throughout the weekend.

First-year student Sam Porter upset the top seed from Hillsdale College in the Lincoln Douglas Quarterfinals. Porter then went on to debate in the final round and claimed runner-up in the division.

As the team looks ahead to the national tournament, head coach Spencer Waugh stressed the importance of focusing on the smaller points.

“It’s really just working out some of the finer details,” Waugh said. “At practice, we need to keep focusing on what’s going to make the difference, on getting our teams from two wins and two losses to getting up to three wins and one loss.”

In less than six years, Waugh built a powerhouse, with two national championships, one runner-up, and multiple individual student national champions.

Simpson heads to San Diego State University for the annual Pi Kappa Delta Debate National Championships on March 27.