Whitman Forensics Newsletter

Vol. 13, No. 1, June, 2007





The Policy Squad Spring 2007: Front Row: Ross, Meghan, Jake, Robby (WWCC). Second Row: Aaron (coach), Sam, Dave, Spencer. Back Row: Eric, Thad (coach), Ben, Nate (WWCC), Matt, Lewis, Luke.  Not pictured: Anjali.


Policy Teams do CEDA & NDT Nats!

CEDA nationals was a major success with seniors Matt Schissler and Ross Richendrfer and sophomore Sam Allen and junior Eric Chalfant going 7-1 in the prelims. Senior Ben Meiches and junior Mike Meredith along with sophomore Luke Sanford and frosh Nate Cohn (WWCC) were 6-2. These four teams dominated the upper bracket of the tournament. Senior Meghan Hughes and sophomore Jake Ginsbach lost a heart breaker in round 8 and thought they were out of the running until Jim

came running into their room to announce that they had the highest speaker points of any 4-4 team and had advanced into elimination rounds! They lost in the Triples to the eventual champion from Oklahoma but it was a very close debate. The doubles was a bit rough for the team, with Luke and Nate, Sam and Eric, and Ben and Mike all losing close debates. Ross and Matt made it through, and had a rematch with UMKC in the Octas, which they won on a 2-1, before losing to Dartmouth in quarterfinals.

At the NDT, Whitman set a new record: being the smallest school in the history of the NDT to qualify three teams, something only six schools are allowed to do each year. Ross and Matt, Mike and Ben, and Sam and Eric made up the three teams and they battled through very fierce competition, and everyone had several excellent wins in the prelims. Unfortunately, only Matt and Ross cleared, but they had a resounding victory in the Doubles against Missouri State. That set up a debate with Southern California in the Octas, which, sadly, they lost. Still, the team’s accomplishments throughout the year could not be denied. Placing third in the nation in Senior Division NDT Sweepstakes Rankings, the Policy Team had an incredibly successful season.


Robby works the Cube.

Rubik’s Cube Returns

The team settled in for a little “lunchies” at the Portland airport, and a challenge was made. Junior Eric Chalfant, the former teacher of the Cube versus WWCC First year Robby White the former student of the Cube. Luke Sanford personally assured equal mixing of the Cube and the race began. Robby “pwned” Eric, finishing the puzzle in 1:15, while the slow teacher Eric took a lengthy 1:42. The grasshopper truly bested his master.


Whitman does well at WSCA tournament

Whitman’s Parliamentary and Individual Events team rocked the Western States tournament, winning second in overall and first in debate sweepstakes. Senior Andrew Kelly and Junior Sarah Goldman demonstrated the team’s strength. Even though Sarah fell ill on the first day and Andrew had to debate alone for a round (an automatic loss that round), the pair overcame adversity and won the tournament; the last of Andrew’s debate career.

Success was not limited to just Andrew and Sarah. In senior division, seniors Stephen Reed and James Hovard carried the team to semi-finals. Senior Chris Chamness and Junior Jeff Wilson advanced to octafinals. Frosh Amy Soderquist and Junior Maile Zenge won novice division. Juniors Sally Sorte and Annie Hickman were in quarters in junior division. Add on first and second place Extemp trophies for Chris and Jeff, and you can see why the team earned such high honors.



The Parli-IE Squad Spring 2007: Front Row: Manny, Albert, Andrew; 2nd Row: Amy, Sally, Annie; Back Row: Stephen, Chris, Rob (coach). Missing Jeff, Sarah & Maile.

The mustaches of the NDT

The question “Why” cannot and will not ever be answered but Eric, Ben, Jim, and Thad all sported mustaches for the National Debate Tournament. Whaddaya think?



Eric shows his stache and bitter mood after losing Rubik’s Cube.

Despite his congenial nature, Ben’s stache with goatee scared many in the community including Jim.

Jim’s stache brought back memories of what he used to look like. Jim quickly grew his beard back.

Thad, shown with version 2 of his stache, had handles that made him look straight out of the 1970s.








Jim Hanson     Aaron Hardy



Thad Blank      Anjali Vats





Senior Loss

We asked each senior and departing staff member to tell us what they plan to do in the coming year and what their favorite memory from the team is.



·        James Hovard: I will be taking the GRE and applying for graduate school in mechanical engineering. My most memorable moment on the team was when we were stuck in the snow trying to navigate our way through the Cascades, and ended up going to Portland and staying with the Chamness family.



Rob Olsen      Stephen Reed


Andrew Lum    Eric Suni


Staff: Jim Hanson, Director of Forensics, Aaron Hardy, Assistant Policy Coach; Rob Olsen, Assistant Parliamentary and I.E. Coach; Thad Blank, Anjali Vats, Eric Suni, Policy Debate Helpers; Andrew Lum, Student Assistant and Intramural Debate Manager; Steve Reed, Dramatic Interpretation Student Assistant; Bob Withycombe, Professor, Rhetoric and Film Studies; Tim Kaufman-Osborn, Dean of Faculty, Chuck Cleveland, Dean of Students; and George Bridges, President.

48 Competitors, 2006-07: Albert Lee, Andrew Kelly, Amy Soderquist, Anne Hickman, Ben Meiches, Brie Coyle, Carl Edwards, Carson Booth, Chris Chamness, Chris Fryefield, Dave Mathews, Eric Chalfant, Gareth Olds, Hugo Vargas, Jake Ginsbach, James Hovard, Jeff Wilson, Lawrence Grandpre, Lewis Silver, Luke Sanford, Maile Zeng, Manny Mora, Matt Schissler, Meghan Hughes, Mike Meredith, Ross Richendrfer, Sam Allen, Sally Sorte, Sarah Golden, Spencer Janyk, Stephen Reed with Robby White and Nathan Cohn (competing for WWCC) plus Alexander Higgens, Anthony Woods, Brian Ableson, Brian Zumeta, David Kosmos, Galen Phillips, Katherine Davies, Kento Ushikubo Luke Kimitake, Melissa Munz, Nadim Damluji, Nathan Driscoll, Russell Caditz-Peck, and Sarah Deming,.


·        Meghan Hughes: I am working at the WNDI and then getting a real job. My favorite memory is beating Fullerton’s top team at the Wake Forest tournament.


·        Stephen Reed: I’ll be working for a public interest research group. My most memorable moment was when Chris Gorman rode the mechanical bull at Universal Studios and unfortunately hurt his shoulder.

·        Ben Meiches: I will be coaching at UPS. My most memorable moment was during the doubles of the NDT my junior year. Jeff and I had just finished our debate against USC, we were negative, and I put my feet up and watched as the judges deliberated and the room bustled with noise. I knew for a fact we won this debate and it was a truly amazing experience to be there. Something I could only have done if I came to Whitman.


·        Andrew Lum: I will be going to the University of Oregon next fall to pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics. My most memorable moments are the signature Jim Hanson tournaments with tons of foodies and goodies (everything from bottled water, pens, and flow paper to DG massages). I'm going to miss those.


·        Ross Richendrfer: I will be coaching at Whitman next year. My most memorable moment was winning an out-round at the NDT this year against Missouri State.


·        Andrew Kelly: My favorite memory was the trip to Western States. In the coming year I will be working in Seattle.


The Jim Frisbee


After a year of dodging, hiding, and even saying “No,” Jim finally relented and let Luke Sanford order a set of Frisbees designed by Rob Olsen. 200 Frisbees were shipped to Whitman, ready for distribution as trophies and for use in the popular campus games of Frisbee Golf and Ultimate Frisbee. Jim’s response “I’m really just embarrassed.” The Frisbee was named one of the top 5 tournament awards given during the year.


Cat Posey, ’05, visited for graduation.


·        Chris Chamness: I will be traveling to Greece, Croatia and the Czech Republic, then looking for work in Portland or Seattle. My most memorable moment was when we almost slid off the road in our vans in the pass, and had to chain up not only two vans but another car as well.


·        Matt Schissler: I'm traveling in Vietnam and deciding between law school and grad school. There's a tie for my most memorable moment between being in finals of Northwestern and watching Meredith destroy Meiches in the quasi-annual Prep-session Hunter Foyer wrestling death match.


·        Anjali Vats: I'll be clerking for the Nevada Supreme Court next year.  One of the best experiences I had this year was the impromptu Thanksgiving dinner that the team organized for me at my home in Seattle.  While it's not technically a "debate" memory, I think it speaks volumes about the sense of community on the Whitman squad.  Finals of Northwestern was also great.

Chris looks a bit shocked while Annie laughs and Sarah looks down. That’s what Taco Bell does to you.


·        Thad Blank: My most memorable moment from last year was everything coming together as Matt and Ross marched to finals at Northwestern.  I will also remember the moments of camaraderie like midnight frisbee golf, basketball and team mustaches.  I will attend Berkeley law school in '08 after a one year deferral.


The Intramural Tournament continues on, now in its 13th year after being resurrected by a joint effort by then President Tom Cronin, then assistant Ryan Hagemann, and Jim Hanson. Andrew Lum ran the tournaments this year after a three year run of being in charge.

The students at the Championship tournament debated the highly charged resolution: The United States should militarily intervene in Darfur (Western Sudan). In the experienced division, David Ogle took first, Dawn Holmes, second, and Laura Buriu and Alex Potter tied for third. In the inexperienced division, Brian Zumeta took first, Russell Caditz-Peck, second, and Jessica Bruhn and Kramer Phillips tied for third.


End of the Year Party

This year, our master chef, Matt Schissler took the reins and catered our team party for probably the last time. Matt served an incredible meal centered on three varieties of jambalaya: vegetarian, chicken, and chicken and sausage. Everyone was satisfied! Matt also blanched fresh asparagus, grilled chicken and tofu, and baked cornbread. After dinner, Jim shared a plethora of cheesecakes to fill everyone’s stomachs.

Beyond Matt’s delicious food, many on the team played Pictionary; even Jim played for a little while. Other team members talked, some sat in Jim’s backyard watching the stream trickle by, and many others enjoyed the back deck and conversation. Team members also received certificates of recognition. A nice way to end the year.

Jake Ginsbach and Meghan Hughes.



Stephen Reed and Amy Soderquist at the end of the year party.






Andrew Stokes pulls an upset in the Dovell-Gose Contest


Andrew Stokes won the contest        


The annual Dovell-Gose oratory contest, established in 1918, saw a major upset for the first time in many years. Junior Andrew Stokes, not on the squad (although he was in the past), stunned team members with a speech on contradictory Supreme Court rulings. His speech was convincing and intriguing to Jim, sole judge this year, and earned him first place. Jim noted that it was hard breaking a four way tie he felt existed among Andrew, Eric Chalfant (humorous speech about assistant coach Thad Blank, second), Matt Schissler (serious speech about contrived “guilt” on campus, third), and Stephen Reed (hilarious speech entitled “give me first place,” fourth) with Ben Meiches’ speech on circumcision close behind. Jeff Wilson, Andrew Kelly, and Sam Allen also won awards for their respective speeches.


The Rocky Mountain Swing

This year, instead of attending the Fullerton swing which sadly changed its dates, Rob took Jeff and Chris to the Mile High Swing in Denver, Colorado. Instead of California sun and heat, the trio was greeted with multiple feet of snow and freezing temperatures. Thankfully, the three were welcomed by Rob’s Aunt and Uncle in Lakewood, Colorado with open arms, a place to stay, and a full kitchen. Both tournaments went extremely well for Jeff and Chris. The duo went 4-2 at both tournaments breaking to double-octo-finals. These two tournaments were riddled with the toughest opponents, so their showing was quite good.

            Beyond the tournament, Jeff, Chris, and Rob went to dinner with the UPS team one night at an Indian Restaurant not far from the tournament. But that was just the beginning of the night. They then joined the UW team at the tournament hotel and enjoyed watching some of Jim’s favorite YouTube broadcasts (we’ll skip the names of them). Later, on the drive home, they found a Taco Bell to satisfy their midnight cravings. Well fed, they rested before their flight home.



Annie and Sally gave a duo speech encouraging Jim to take a vacation.



NW CEDA Champs


Meghan and Jake 



Dave and Lewis


Jim brought in teams from Florida, Denver, Pepperdine, Wyoming, Idaho State, and Western Connecticut making the tournament the largest it has been since the 1990s. Mike and Ben closed out the tournament with Matt and Ross for first place. Eric and Sam were in semis, Meghan and Jake were in quarters, and Nate and Luke were in octas. Ben won the Becky Galantine award for being top speaker. Coaches enjoyed a great party at Bob’s house.





Ross and Spencer     


20 Days Together


Jim, Anjali, and Meghan    Luke, Aaron, and Nate   

at the Hat Store.                exit the XCelerator ride. 


Mike, Ross, Eric, Robby, Meghan, Ben, and Thad at the USC tournie.


What was the longest tournament you attended when you were on the squad? Beat this one: The policy team traveled together for a record 20 days in a row when we attended three California tournaments over the Dec-Jan break. Jim thought it would be just too much but “in the end, it worked out pretty well.”

Things got off to a good start at the first tournament, USC, with Matt and Ross going 5-2. Ben and Mike also cleared, going 4-3, and the rest of the teams were one win away from advancing. Matt and Ross wound up tied for 9th; Ben and Mike, 17th. In JV division, Lewis and Dave and Robby (WWCC) and Spencer both went undefeated with Lewis and Dave winning it all, making it the 9th time in a row we have been in finals at USC.

The second half of the Swing at Fullerton saw the whole team compete in open division for the first time. Matt and Ross, Ben and Mike and Eric and Sam advanced to elimination rounds and Meghan and Jake and Nate and Luke also had a good tournament, going 3-3 and missing elimination rounds on speaker points.

After that, most of the team went to the Cotler’s home for a few days (they hosted us at Pepperdine in the fall) while storing tubs at a Motel 6 near our first hotel. Despite the close quarters and intense environment, the team got along great, had fun at Knotts Berry Farm, and relaxed a little to get ready for Berkeley.

After moving up to San Francisco for the Berkeley tournament, Ben and Mike went 5-1 in prelims and reached the Octafinals. Nate and Luke had a breakout, going 4-2 also reaching the Octas. Ross, who was sick, and Matt had a frustrating tournament, getting off to a rocky start in the prelims, and lost in the Partial Doubles. Meghan and Jake and Eric and Sam went 3-3. In the end, the team survived and Aaron Hardy noted “The meltdown did not happen. That shows what a great team we have.”





Nate (WWCC)


Sarah, Mike, Luke at the end of the year party.


Team Dinnies!

Left side of the table from the front: Sarah, Jeff, Jim.

Right side of the table from the back: Chris, Sally, Annie.










Contributions to the Team

We are grateful for your contributions to the forensic team! Generous donors December 1, 2006 through May 20, 2007 include: Barbara and Rodney D. Orth, Beth Schueler, Brian Simmonds, Bridget Kustin, Carolynn M. Snyder, Charles Olney, David H. Allard, Ellen and Erland Suni, Emily Cordo, Jim Hanson, Janice Berman, Jared Phillips and Loan Lam, Jennifer Becker and Andrew Backlund, John McEntire, Lisa and Ted Slabach, Megan & John Medica, Microsoft Corporation, Morgan and Matthew Johnson-Doyle, Robert Brinton, Robert Withycombe, Robert de Grouchy, Samantha Howell, Sara and Stephen Rowe, Sue Willis and Paul Schissler, Ted and Lisa Olivarez Slabach, The Boeing Company, The Salzman-Medica Foundation, Thad Blank, William Abel. If we missed you, please tell us. We do appreciate your support!

Send contributions for Debate to Annual Fund Office; Whitman College; Walla Walla WA 99362

Checks should be made out to Whitman College with a note that says to place the contribution into one of the Debate Team Funds (Salzman-Medica, Withycombe, Walker, or just say “for debate”).

Stephen and Sarah with Jim in the background.


Amy Makes it!


Amy Soderquist and WSCA tournament partner Maile Zeng


First year Amy Soderquist played musical partners this year. Her partner changed every tournament but she kept at it and it paid off for her at the last tournament of the year, Western States held in Seattle. Amy partnered with junior Maile Zeng and they ended up winning the tournament in novice division debating Australia's presence in East Timor, handily defeating their opponents.

Ross and Matt at Northwestern

Matt and Ross preparing for a debate.


Despite the bitter cold, including a snowstorm that almost stranded the squad in Chicago, Ross and Matt had a sensational weekend. After going 6-2 in the prelims, Matt and Ross knocked off top caliber teams from UMKC, Missouri State, Kansas, and Georgia, to reach the finals against Oklahoma. Although they lost a close 2-1 in finals, they locked up a first-round bid to the NDT, earning themselves a 12th in the nation ranking for the year. Nice!


Policy Awards

BEN MEICHES AND MIKE MEREDITH: Gonzaga, QUARTERS; Kentucky, DOUBLES, Pepperdine, OCTAS, Wake Forest, DOUBLES; USC, DOUBLES; Fullerton, DOUBLES; Berkeley, OCTAS; Northwestern 5-3; NW CEDA Champs, FIRST (Tie) (Ben, Becky Galentine Top Speaker Award); CEDA Nationals, DOUBLES; NDT 4-4 .



ERIC CHALFANT AND SAM ALLEN: Pepperdine, SEMIS (closeout); Wake, 5-3; Fullerton, DOUBLES; Northwestern 5-3; NW CEDA Champs, SEMIS; CEDA Nationals, DOUBLES; NDT 3-5.



MATT SCHISSLER AND ROSS RICHENDRFER: Gonzaga, SECOND, Kentucky, DOUBLES; Pepperdine, FIRST; Wake Forest, OCTAS; USC, OCTAS; Fullerton, OCTAS; Berkeley, DOUBLES; Northwestern SECOND; NW CEDA Champs, FIRST (Tie); CEDA Nationals, QUARTERS; NDT OCTAS.



Parli and IE Awards





ANDREW KELLY, Lewis and Clark, Jr Extemp, SIXTH.


ANNIE HICKMAN, Pacific, Nov Extemp, FIRST.


CARSON BOOTH, Lewis and Clark, Jr Extemp, FIFTH.


CHRIS CHAMNESS, Pacific, Jr Extemp, FIRST; WSCA, Jr Extemp, SECOND.





SALLY SORTE, Pacific, Nov Extemp, THIRD.



Albert, Sally, Annie, and Jim

Parli Nationals!

Once again, Whitman qualified for the NPTE; this year with Senior Chris Chamness and Junior Jeff Wilson. But this was, perhaps, the most interesting tournament since its inception. Chris and Jeff won 7 out of 12 ballots, which in years past, was enough to clear. But Jeff and Chris were not among the top of the crop, so they had to debate a runoff round against Berkeley’s #2 team. They clearly won the substance of the debate but sadly, one misplaced word in their plan cost them the debate on a topicality argument. Still, they wound up 25th in the nation; not bad!

Afterward, at NPDA Nationals, Juniors Annie Hickman and Sally Sorte, Seniors Stephen Reed and James Hovard, and Chris and Jeff put themselves in position to break, Sally and Annie and Stephen and James were 4-3 going into round 8 and Chris and Jeff were 5-2. Alas, only Chris and Jeff broke and lost in triples. Former Whitman coach Geof Brodak helped out, bringing a fresh perspective to the team. Immediately afterwards, the Whitman team challenged the University of Puget Sound team to a game of ultimate Frisbee. The UPS team was good, but not good enough. They fell quickly to the dexterity of Sally Sorte who zigged and zagged her way to many points. The UPS team was defeated and Whitman once again claimed victory! J


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