Talking Saints Earn 34th Consecutive Title

Talking Saints in 2024

HELENA – The Carroll College Talking Saints brought home 46 awards from the Northwest Forensics Conference championship tournament on their way to their 34th consecutive conference title. The team shared gold medal honors with Boise State University and Lewis & Clark College at the tournament held in Forest Grove, OR, at Pacific University on January 26-28.

Anna Brown and Katy Keim
Anna Brown and Katy Keim

Leading the way was first-year team member Katy Keim from Moscow, ID, who won seven awards, including the Orv Iverson award, presented to the region’s best novice competitor. Anna Brown, a junior from Olympia, WA, won four awards and was honored as the second most successful open division competitor at the tournament.

Brad Tomasovic, a first-year from Great Falls, MT, won five awards, including two first-place finishes. Tomasovic, with partner Ashlynne Jeffries from Vancouver, WA, won junior debate, completing their sweep of BP debate at the two regional championship tournaments this year. Tomasovic also won first in novice prose.

All 23 Saints jumped to their feet and shouted their approval when Keim was presented with the Orv Iverson award.

“With Anna screaming in my ear, I couldn’t even hear the announcement,” Keim laughed. “I was just shocked. I was supported by the whole team. I was proud of myself!”

The Iverson trophy is a golden eagle head, fitting since Keim earned her Eagle Scout badge during high school.

“An eagle for the Eagle Scout,” said Northup. “Scout spirit!”

Keim is the daughter of two team members, Darrell ’94 and Elissa ‘92 (Braico) Keim. Elissa was a sophomore when Brent Northup arrived in 1989. Both Darrell and Elissa were part of the Talking Saints team that started the regional winning streak in 1991.

“The Keim family forms the bookends of my career here,” said Northup. “Darrell and Elissa supported me through my bumpy early years, and I’m forever grateful. They were kind, hard-working students who fell in love and got married! Debate partners for life! Katy is making them very proud. It’s worth noting Katy had no previous experience. Her success is built on her hard work and her big heart.”

Anna Brown, a high school basketball star, also started from scratch and is now headed to the national speech championships in April in Wisconsin. At Pacific, Anna won two events, and placed in two more. Northup says no one works harder than Brown.

“My coach Anna Hoerner and I worked at least six hours a week on my six events,” said Brown. “When I got my first place for impromptu, I was stunned. I was competing against some of the region’s best speakers. It was very humbling to win this, but it wasn’t really about the awards. It was all the support I had from people I have competed against hugging me, congratulating me, and making sure I felt special. And my team yelling and supporting me through the ups and the downs.”

Eighteen Carroll students won awards at Pacific, including all nine first-year students. A dozen Talking Saints won more than one award.

“The success of the first-year students is always so gratifying,” said Northup. “We have cellists, jumpers, runners, and an international student from Ukraine who started from zero and now have trophies on their dorm dressers. So wonderful.”

Nearly half the Carroll awards were won in debate. Carroll advanced six teams to the championship rounds, placing first in junior and second in open British Parliamentary debate. Eight members won top-10 speaker recognition.

The debate topics included Taiwanese-Chinese tensions, America’s southern border immigration issues, and America’s system of political primaries.

Charlie Said, a sophomore from Seattle, WA, and partner sophomore Catherine Dudley from Markleville, IN, were finalists in debate. Said won the second-place speaker award. Dudley was fifth. In junior debate, champion Brad Tomasovic was second speaker and Jenna Hammond of Libby, MT, was fourth.

“The Brad and Charlie friendship is a great story,” said Northup. “Charlie beat Brad in the national championship final round of policy debate in high school. So Brad, who is a year younger, decided to follow Charlie to Carroll. They are both very skilled debaters and loved by their teammates.”

Carroll students winning multiple awards included junior June LePage of Lewistown, MT, and partner junior Spencer McDonald of Missoula, MT. They were runners-up in open debate, won by Lewis & Clark College.

Hammond, with partner Anzhela Stoliar of Ukraine, debated in the championship round of junior debate. Hammond reached finals of two other events, and Stoliar reached finals of prose.

“Anzhela’s prose is quite powerful,” said Northup. “She tells the story of the Ukraine war through the voices of Ukraine’s women soldiers fighting on the front lines for their homeland. Some are mothers, who are fighting to preserve freedom for their children.”

Emily Mowat, a first-year from Billings, MT, placed in open prose and impromptu. Sophomore Sara Bocquin of Laurel, MT, won two awards, including reaching the semifinals in open BP debate with her partner, sophomore Olivia Smith of Bozeman, MT.

Senior JR Saling of Lewis & Clark College won the Brent Northup Award, honoring the top individual in the region for the 2023-2024 season. The award was renamed in honor of the Carroll coach in 2020. Northup presented Saling with the award at the closing ceremony.

The Talking Saints season will conclude with trips to Saskatoon in February, the National Speech Tournament in Wisconsin in April, and the Air Force Academy championship in April.

Canada’s Diefenbaker Cup tournament honors former Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan College of Law.

“One of the reasons we compete in British Parliamentary debate is because it’s a format adopted by university debating societies throughout the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and Canada,” said Northup. “We travel to Calgary every year and have made many friends. The USask debate society actually moved their tournament date to one where Carroll could attend because our students have formed so many friendships with their team. The Canadians have already set a time to take our students out to see Saskatoon. That will be a competitive tournament with a heart – under the Northern lights in chilly Saskatchewan. We will wear our Hazmat parkas.”