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Whitworth forensics team begins season with milestone win

October 25, 2013

After three days of intense competition, Whitworth’s forensics team brought home 43 awards, including three sweepstakes, from its first tournament of the season. The Steve Hunt Classic took place Oct. 11-13 at Lewis & Clark College, in Portland, Ore..

Whitworth took first place in the debate sweepstakes, beating out 46 schools from 13 states, including Boise State University, Oregon State University, the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon and the University of Mississippi. Whitworth placed second in the speech section and second in the combined overall sweepstakes.

“This is a milestone victory for us,” says Mike Ingram, coach of the Whitworth team and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth. “We finished with 130 debate points, more than the second- and third-place team scores combined.”

The win represents the first time Whitworth has won a designated debate tournament in the Northwest Forensics Conference. “Each year the NFC designates three tournaments and totals the team points earned at each of these tournaments to determine yearlong sweepstakes awards,” Ingram says. “We finished ahead of some strong and respectable programs in our region and in the country. It was impressive to see the intellectual breadth and depth of our team, where 16 students won two or more awards each.”

A forensics tournament features several events. Each participant can choose from 11 genres of speech, in addition to the debating portion. The tournament progresses in rounds. Students deliver speeches on varying topics from fields such as ethics, literature and politics. A judge then evaluates their arguments on a scale of one to five, with one being the highest.

Forensics allows students to develop their critical-thinking skills, to explore new methods of effective communication, to build a strong teamwork ethic, and to widen their perspectives. Ingram encourages students across all fields of study to explore forensics if they are interested.

At the tournament, there were several outstanding performances by Whitworth students. Whitworth had two debaters in each debate division’s final round: Norann Beidas, ’16, and Rebecca Korf, ’15, in the final round of the novice (first year) division of debate; Lilly Davis, ’16, who went undefeated to win the junior debate division, and Sarah Sauter, ’15, in the junior (second year); and Sam Director, ’15, and Stephanie Saracco, ’15, in the senior division of debate.

“The squad closed out the final round in three divisions of debate,” Ingram says. “This is very difficult to do, and it is a first in the history of Whitworth forensics. It may also be a first in the Northwest across any form of collegiate debate.”

In the speech sections, several Whitworth students also achieved notable success. Andie Ingram, ’16, took first place in Informative Speaking and Stephanie Saracco, ’15, won Programmed Oral Interpretation. In the novice division, Sarah Dice, ’16, placed first in Informative Speaking and Liz Jacobs, ’17, took first place in Impromptu Speaking.

Whitworth Forensics award winners include: Liz Jacobs, ’17; Evan Barnes, Chris Burnett, Molly Daniels, Sarah Dice, Andie Ingram, Rebecca Korf, Norann Beidas, Lilly Davis, Andy Koneval, Alex Hoffman, Brennan Neal, all ’16; Sam Director, Jonathan Kim, Stephanie Saracco and Sarah Sauter, all ’15.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Mike Ingram, professor of communication studies and director of forensics, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4428 or

Lucas Beechinor, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or