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Award Recognizes PLU Speech and Debate Team as one of the Best in the Pacific Northwest

Posted by:
February 7, 2015

Pacific Lutheran University’s Speech and Debate team returned from competition at Western Washington University with major honors:

  • The team earned a coveted debate sweepstakes award for the 2014-15 season—its first such award since 2005—which honors PLU’s performance over the year at tournaments in the Pacific Northwest. PLU beat out rivals including Willamette, Lewis & Clark, Whitman, the University of Puget Sound and the University of Washington.
  • Austin Ballard, a junior, was awarded third top speaker.
  • First-year debater Noah Gerlach took seventh in the junior division.
  • First-year debater Sam Altenberger and sophomore Max Bartholomew made it to the semi-finals in the junior division.
Debate duo Max Bartholomew and Sam Altenberger pose with their semi-finalist plaque. (Photo: Tori Vigil, PLU)

Debate duo Max Bartholomew and Sam Altenberger pose with their semi-finalist plaque. (Photo: Tori Vigil, PLU)

“Finals were the last thing on my mind at the beginning, but somehow Sam and I were able to make it into semis,” Bartholomew said.

Competing in their first competition together, Ballard and Gerlach proved a dynamic duo: They made it to the final round.

“I’m really proud to have made it that far,” Ballard said. “I’m excited to debate for PLU as often as I can.”

Directed by Justin Eckstein, PLU’s Speech and Debate team has a long history of intercollegiate forensics competition. Founded in 1947, PLU’s debate team is one of the oldest and most decorated forensics programs in the country. In the 2013-14 season, the PLU speech and debate team made it to eliminations at every single tournament it attended.

On average, the program attends 10 tournaments each year and hosts three events on PLU’s campus, including the T.O.H. Karl High School Invitational, The Forensics Scholar Lecture, and the Ruth Anderson Public Debate Series.

The co-curricular and regionally competitive forensics program provides travel opportunities for all skill levels.

Balancing competition with service to the local community, the program features forensics mentoring programs and hosts public debates on matters of concern.

The team will compete next at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., the last weekend of February.