WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- There is a good-natured tug of war underway this week for the academic and athletic services of sophomore Sam Spiegel.

Pulling from one side is Jim Hanson, coach of the Whitman's speech & debate team, while tugging from the other side is men's tennis coach Jeff Northam. Caught in the middle is Spiegel, who excels in both forensics and tennis.

Spiegel, a graduate of St. John's-Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg, Canada, must juggle his divided loyalties this weekend when Whitman plays host to a pair of regional speech/debate tournaments as well as a national tennis tournament.

The one-day Dean McSloy Individual Events speech tournament gets underway at 8:30 a.m. Friday and continues well into the evening. Whitman's Northwest Forensics Conference (NFC) tournament, which includes individual events as well as two forms of debate, starts at 1:45 p.m. Friday and continues through Sunday.

Spiegel, who competes in communication analysis and duo interpretation as well as parliamentary debate, is entered in both speech tournaments. He also plays singles and doubles for the Whitman tennis team, which hosts the second-annual NCAA Div. III National Indoor Championships on Saturday and Sunday in the Bratton Tennis Center.

Whitman plays its first tennis match this weekend at noon Saturday against the University of Redlands, which is ranked No. 3 nationally to begin the spring season. Depending on whether it wins or loses its first match, Whitman will play one or two more times as the tournament continues.

Whitman, one of the contenders for a Northwest Conference men's tennis title later this spring, is hosting the national indoor tournament for a second straight year.

Meanwhile, Spiegel and his teammates on the speech & debate team are enjoying one of the strongest seasons in the history of Whitman forensics. For his part, Spiegel placed first in communication analysis at tournaments hosted by the University of Oregon and California State University-Northridge. A relative beginner in parliamentary debate, he teamed with junior Darrell Miller to win the junior division at two tournaments.

Hanson, now in his 10th year as director of the Whitman speech/debate program, expects about 10 schools and 70 competitors for Friday's Dean McSloy tournament. The three-day NFC event should draw about two dozen schools and 300 individuals.

Montana's Carroll College and Whitman are the favorites to place first and second in the NFC tournament, which is the third and last competition on which final conference standings are computed. Whitman amassed 356.9 points in the first two designated tournaments and is a virtual lock for the season title among schools attending all three competitions. Carroll, which scored 239.8 points in competing in just one of the first two tournaments, is a heavy favorite for the season title among schools attending two competitions.

  • Charles Olney and Thad Blank, a pair of juniors, won policy debate tournaments hosted by Gonzaga University, Lewis & Clark College and the University of Oregon. They placed second in a recent Northwestern University tournament considered to be the premier spring competition prior to the national championships. The Northwestern tournament included 140 of the nation's top policy debate teams.
  • With Olney and Blank leading the way, Whitman thoroughly dominated the policy debate portion of the University of Oregon tournament. Senior Brian Ward and freshman Mike Winnike placed second, while senior Scott Daniel and sophomore Emily Marr took third. Also placing among the top six were three more Whitman teams: Emily Cordo and Beth Schuler, David Guidry and Joey Bennett, and Chris McCool and John Poor.
  • Natalie Havlina and Gabe McGuire took first place in parliamentary debate at the University of Alaska's prestigious Great Alaska Speakout.
  • Sam Spiegel, along with Katie Imbeau and Nicholas Thomas, have already qualified for the national championships in various individual events. Imbeau, a first-year student, placed first in both dramatic interpretation and prose at a Western Washington University tournament, placed second in dramatic interpretation at the University of Utah, and teamed with Spiegel for second place in duo interpretation at Lewis & Clark. Thomas, a senior, was first in extemporaneous speaking at the University of Oregon and second in both impromptu speaking and communication analysis at Utah.