Speech and Debate Team secures six semifinalist and finalists at Hap Hingston Forensics Invitational


Elise Brown

(From left): Hunter Bosson, senior, and Alec Teich, junior, await round two of parliamentary debate at the Hap Hingston Forensics Invitational. 15 members from West Linn competed at the two-day tournament, and six broke to “out-rounds” where they received semi-finalist or finalist distinction.

Pacific University hosted 30 Speech and Debate teams from separate schools on Jan. 10 and Jan. 11 during the annual Hap Hingston Forensics Invitational . T.he tournament earned student speakers from West Linn High School six semi-finalist spots, three finalist trophies and one first-place win. At the tournament, there were 152 debate entries and 586 entries for individual events.

“Everybody did amazing, and I’m really proud of everybody,” Taylor Bosson, sophomore, said.  Bosson registered to compete in radio commentary, which requires contestants to compose and present a five-minute mock broadcast on a current topic event. She placed first in this category, her second first-place win this year. “It was really tough competition at a really big tournament.”

Because state championship qualifications in Speech and Debate are approaching, consecutive competitions in the season become increasingly extensive. This makes the HHFI one of the bigger events in the season, alongside championships at Mount Hood Community College, Lewis and Clark College and other colleges. The large base of student speakers that came to the HHFI allowed those from WLHS to witness presentations of past contestants.

“There were people that I first heard in the beginning of the year,” Bosson said. “They have come back and made huge improvements, so it’s getting a lot harder to impress the judges when everybody else has been working really hard to improve [their delivery].”

Many students were impressed by the displays made by other student speakers.

“These have definitely been some of the best performances I’ve seen,” Brandi Meyers, senior, said. Meyers participated in dramatic interpretation and poetry, placing sixth in dramatic interpretation. “Everyone is getting a grasp of what the pieces are, how to make them better and what judges are looking for.”

Speakers from WLHS prepared for the competition by presenting for one another, sharing experiences and receiving feedback. Hours upon hours of practice were also a chief part of preparation.

“I was just going over my pieces again and again, seeing if there’s any twist in my pieces I want to make and making sure I’m in the time allotment,” Meyers said.

Along with the awards of Bosson and Meyers, Gwendolyn Marble, junior, was a semifinalist in poetry; Hunter Bosson, senior, was a semifinalist for extemporaneous speech; Elisabeth Schweitzer, freshman, was a semifinalist for radio commentary; and Eric Dale, junior, was a finalist for radio commentary.