March 16, 2020

McDonagh and Talamantez take top two spots at national championship

Lewis & Clark’s Raine McDonagh (’20) and Mary Talamantez (’20) were named the top two individual speakers in the nation at the 2020 National Parliamentary Debate Association’s Championship Tournament.

It might have been the last speech and debate tournament held in the US during the 2019-2020 academic year.

It was certainly the last parliamentary debate tournament in the illustrious careers of Raine McDonagh (’20) and Mary Talamantez (’20).

And they made it count.

McDonagh was named the top individual speaker nationally at the 2020 National Parliamentary Debate Association’s Championship tournament, held at McKendree University in Lebanon, IL. Talamantez was the closest competition, finishing as the second place speaker. They bested a field of over 110 speakers from across the nation in order to earn their honors.

It is the first time in program history that a student from Lewis & Clark has won the national top speaker award at the NPDA Championship tournament.

In addition, McDonagh and Talamantez finished in second place as a team, winning ten debates before finally being defeated by McKendree in the final debate. Over the course of the tournament, they defeated teams from Rice University, St. Mary’s College, Western Washington University and the University of Minnesota, among others, to secure their place in the final.

Debate coach Nadia Steck said of the accomplishment, “I couldn’t be more proud of the performance of Raine and Mary this weekend. Not only were they the top two speakers in the country and national finalists, but both of them have consistently risked their potential success to try and make the debate community better. They have both been amazing students and amazing people these last few years and deserve all the praise and success they have received this season.”

The tournament might have been the last for the Lewis & Clark’s speech and debate team for the season. Planned national championships for speech events and Lincoln-Douglas debate in April have been postponed or canceled due to COVID-19, though there is the possibility that they would be held after the semester concludes if health security conditions allow.