The Carroll College (Helena, Mont.) Talking Saints forensics team rebounded from their first regional tournament defeat in 21 years by defeating Boise State and 23 other colleges and universities while winning the Pacific University regional championship tournament on January 29, 2012, in Forest Grove, Ore.
The win earned Carroll a Gold Medal Program award and a share of the Northwest Forensics Conference title. This was the 22nd straight year that the Talking Saints have won or shared the NFC Conference crown. At the event, Carroll students won 52 awards, with 19 separate students being honored.
"We traded victories with Boise State at the two big regional tournaments," said Coach Brent Northup, professor of communication and department chair at Carroll. The Boise State team, which along with Whitman College also earned Gold Medal Program honors for the year, is led by first-year coach Manda Hicks, a 1997 Carroll communication alumna.
The Carroll victory at Pacific was led by two new Carroll team members, Bobbi Owen and Michael Yamoah, who won a dozen awards, six apiece. Owen, a freshman from Broadus, Mont., won novice prose and novice persuasion on her way to being named second best novice competitor in the region. Yamoah, a junior transfer from the African nation of Ghana, won novice extemporaneous speaking and finished less than one point ahead of Owen to win best novice in the region, the equivalent of the "rookie of the year award" in Northwest forensics. Chris Axtman, a junior from Portland, Ore., won five awards and finished third in the race for the Coach's Commemorative Trophy, the Most Valuable Speaker award for the Northwest region.
Other Carroll first-place winners included Jon Men, a junior from Garden Grove, Calif., who won after dinner speaking and three more awards. Matt Rodriguez, a sophomore from Long Beach, Calif., won five awards including first place in junior impromptu. Winning three awards were Stephen Maddock of Sammamish, Wash., Laramy Ayers of Billings and Tanner Van Wyck of Nampa, Idaho.
Sharing the regional title was disappointing for some team members, who are accustomed to being undisputed regional champions. But the coach was pleased.
"This team represents Carroll in a very classy way," said Northup. "They congratulate winners from other schools and they are a good audience when watching their opponents in final rounds. And they practice hard, never resenting extra work. They even sang respectable songs on the bus. A coach can't ask for more than that."
The Carroll season now turns towards nationals. The team will compete in three national tournaments: the National Parliamentary Debate Tournament in Bellingham, Wash., on March 21-24; the National Individual Events Tournament in San Marcos, Texas, April 5-8; and the National British Parliamentary Championships in Salem, Ore., on April 13-15