The Utah State University speech and debate team proved it can succeed, no matter the odds at the Steve Hunt Classic tournament, hosted online by Lewis & Clark College. Attended by 70 schools from 25 states, the competitive field was both broad and deep, including such storied institutions as Vanderbilt University, Rice University, UCLA and Mississippi State University. Nearly 2,000 students competed in the tournament that took place October 9-11.
Utah State University senior Bryn Voigt earned first place overall in the senior division of Editorial Commentary, an impressive feat given that the political science student had never competed in the event before.
“Editorial Commentary is an ‘experimental event that isn’t yet recognized by the National Forensics Association,’” said head coach Chantelle Gossner. “Editorial Commentary is still essentially an event in development. It is amazing that our Aggie students get to actively shape the norms and future of the speech and debate community. Also, it is incredible that our students are so adaptable and skilled that they can enter an event that is brand-new to them and take first place at such an enormous tournament.”
Voigt, who has been a competing member of the team for two years, also made it to the elimination rounds in the senior division of IPDA debate. She won in partial octofinals and finished the tournament as a full octofinalist.
“Speech and debate is the best thing I have done in terms of academic and personal growth,” Voigt said. “There were many strong competitors this weekend that pushed me to improve my ability to present, research and make critical arguments. I’m grateful that I got to practice and expand these skills while representing the USU debate team.”
Gossner explains that this year’s team has huge potential.
“This team has shown their incredible depth, even just one month into the competitive season,” Gossner said. “This year has many unique opportunities because of online tournaments. I have been thoroughly impressed with the speech and debate community’s ability to adapt to challenges and continue to help students grow.”
The team looks forward to upcoming online tournaments in November and December. As always, they are grateful for the support of the Communication Studies department, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the alumni community, Gossner concluded.