With some competitions, it’s “all in the wrist,” or “all in your head.”
With Public Forum Debate, said Jack Patterson, “It’s all in the research.”
Hood River Valley High School’s Speech and Debate team, coached by Jonathan Estey, had a strong showing at the OSAA Speech and Debate State Championships held at Western Oregon University April 18-20.
Seniors Jack Patterson and Ty Bofferding, defending state champions in Public Forum Debate, took first place to retain their title, and earned a return to nationals.
“It was a little more stressed this year, because we won it last year and went to nationals and if we didn’t repeat it would feel like we were letting people down,” Bofferding said.
“We knew it was something we could do, but with debate itself it’s really subjective, so getting that sort of support from judges is great,” said Patterson, who also is the HRVHS student body president. Bofferding is also a starting pitcher for the HRVHS baseball team.
Their debate win helped bring HRVHS to a third place overall finish among Division 5A schools, one of the best results in school history, Estey said.
Semifinalists also included senior Luis Santillan in Humorous Interpretation, senior Jessica Wagar in Poetry Reading and freshman Hannah Hart in Impromptu.
Patterson and Bofferding said working together for four years helped in their repeat win, but mainly it’s hours and hours of prep time.
Patterson said each minute of speech represents an hour and a half of research; Public Forum competitions last about 45 minutes.
In the event, teams are given a topic a month in advance; in this case, it was “Continuation of current anti-drug policies in Latin America will do more harm than good.”
In the partner event, the first speaker, Patterson, delivers the speech, and the second speaker, Bofferding, refutes the opponents’ argument.
“We spent a lot of time making sure we were prepared,” Bofferding said. “It was one of those where the top two seeds, everyone expects that for the finals it would be us.”
They defeated Jacob Pavlik and Brent Morgan from Glencoe High School.
“They’re really good,” Bofferding said. “We’d beaten them twice before this year, but we did not want to be overconfident. We just spoke really well.
“Sometimes in the middle of the debate we’ll be saying the exact same thing,” he said. “We link really well; sometimes we know what the other person is thinking.”
The key is “gathering evidence, and getting the arguments no one else has,” Bofferding said. “A lot of the debates are settled before you even step into the room.”
Patterson took another first place and a state champion’s medal in Poetry Reading. Bofferding was a semifinalist in Radio Commentary. His poems included a slam poem by Ben Haggerty, and “The End of Science Fiction,” by Liesl Mueller.
“I came in as a freshman not knowing what I was doing, but now I seem to know what I’m doing,” joked Patterson.
Bofferding and Patterson will compete at nationals in Birmingham, Ala., June 16-18. In the fall, Patterson will start classes at University of Utah, and plans to compete in speech and debate. Bofferding will enroll at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and study international affairs.
“Wagar’s and Hart’s results were especially impressive as they were both novices this year,” added Estey. “Wagar was competing in just her fourth-ever tournament and Hart was one of the few freshmen to qualify for State, let alone advance to the third day of competition.”
Nils Engbersen and Garrett Kelly also competed in Public Forum Debate.