Emma Stoltzfus — Staff Writer
“And your tournament champion in parliamentary debate…from Dordt College: Daniel Schreur and Branden Lesondak!”
The Dordt College forensics team just reached a new high by placing 1st in a debate tournament.
The two-day Vocal Viking tournament took place on Oct. 26-27 at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota. A two and a half hour drive from Dordt College.
While Dordt has placed in quarter finals before, this is the highest the team has placed since the debate team’s start six years ago. It is unknown if the previous incarnation of the forensics team in the 70s ever reached finals in a debate.
Lesondak is a sophomore mechanical engineering and Kuyper scholars program student. The tournament marked down a first for him too, he’d never competed in debate before.
Scheur is a senior biology and environmental science major who has been competing in high school and college forensics for six years.
Both members of the debate team said they felt happy and surprised as they moved forward in each round.
The two debated a total of seven rounds over the course of the tournament. Each one including 15 minutes of prep and 45 minutes taking turns arguing their respective sides.
As main speaker for most of the rounds, Schreur gave two speeches each debate detailing their position while Lesondak, sporting a Winnie the Pooh tie, delivered one to attack their opponent’s points.
“It’s pretty easy to poke holes in people’s arguments,” said Lesondak, “it’s a little harder to give the structure for it.”
At the start of the final round a judge read out the resolution. The two teams would be debating on a resolution to require all US citizens to register for the draft.
Northern State University defended and Dordt College opposed.
The main discussion centered around equality and freedom. NSU upheld that opening the draft would increase equality between men and women. Dordt argued that abolishing the draft entirely would promote the freedom to join the army if one chose to do so instead of being forced against their will.
The sound of the audience knocking on their desks rumbled across the auditorium at each particularly well-put argument.
Both Schreur and Lesondak said the final debate was their favorite due to the topic and the fact that they were able to debate the actual issue instead of haggling over definitions and topicality.
Bruce Kuiper, Dordt’s forensic coach, commented that though Dordt won the debate, they did not place in the top debate speaker points. He attributed that to Dordt having better arguments but lacking polish.
“We had function and they had form” Kuiper said.
The Vocal Viking featured both Debate and Individual Events (IE) in its tournament. Anne Wright and Emma Stoltzfus also competed in the tournament in IE. Stoltzfus received 4th out of four competitors in After Dinner Speaking (ADS).
In addition to debating and delivering speeches, the Dordt team carved a pumpkin to look like an angler fish by using broken kabob sticks as teeth. They did not win the pumpkin carving competition, that trophy went to a hat-wearing pumpkin carved to look like a pirate.
In between rounds, the team hung out and worked on various homework in a small lounge.
Lesondak likes the road trip aspect of forensics. “You get to go out and meet new people, talk, and have fun,” he said.
On Friday night, they stayed in a hotel and played Jackbox games before heading to bed in preparation for the rounds kicking off at 8am the next morning.
Kuiper said he talked to the tournament director and the man who tallied up all the scores. Both thought Dordt deserved the win.