Skip to main content
Comm Banner

Debate Team

Debate Coach and Mentor: Chantelle Gossner

Debate 2017-2018

USU Debaters Third Overall in First Major Competition Against 46 Colleges
Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017

debate team 2107

 The USU Speech and Debate team took third place overall at a recent competition. Students who finished in the top five of the tournament were Erika Mueller, Taehoon Bang, Brock Redman, Sam Hendricks and Carsyn Endres. At far right is Coach Tom Worthen.

The Utah State University Speech and Debate Team returned from its first major competition in the academic year as tournament champions.  

The Northwest Forensic Conference tournament, held Oct. 13-15 at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., is the largest speech and debate tournament in the Northwest with 47 colleges and universities from 11 states, said debate coach Tom Worthen.

Among more than 600 competitors at the tournament, USU’s team placed third overall, with Boise State taking first place.

The USU team closed out the International Public Debate Association’s Novice Division debate, with Taehoon Bang taking first, Erika Mueller second, Carsyn Endres third and Brock Redman fifth.  Worthen said Sam Hendricks placed second in Jr Division debate, losing on a split decision in the final round to Whitworth University of Spokane, Wash.

Student winners in individual speech events included:

  • Brock Redman, first in Persuasive Speaking and third in Informative Speaking.  
  • Naomi Ward, first in Program Oral Interpretation; she also placed fifth in Jr. division debate.
  • Donnie Corwin, fourth in Persuasive Speaking.
  • Erika Mueller, sixth in both Persuasive and Informative Speaking. 

Out of 16 tournaments since fall of 2014, USU’s team has placed among the top three in debate in 15 of those competitions, said Worthen.

Matt Sanders, an associate dean in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, described the work by Worthen and his students as “exceptional.

“With a volunteer coach and a very modest budget from donations,” he said, “the USU Debate Team consistently wins against schools with paid coaches and students on scholarship.”

For more information, contact Worthen at

Debate 2015-2016

October 9-11, 2015

Attending the largest comprehensive speech and debate tournament of the year, the Utah State University Speech and Debate Team returned from Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon placing first place in debate and 5th in overall sweepstakes. At the tournament were 48 other colleges and universities from 11 states. Individual awards went to Annie Worthen who ended with a record of 12 wins and three loses to place first in IPDA debate.  Annie also took 3rd place in Informative Speaking, 4th place in Persuasive Speaking and received the award as the 4th best debate speaker at the tournament. Joseph Allred placed first in Persuasive Speaking and 6th in Extemporaneous Speaking. Mariah Andreasen placed 5th place in After Dinner Speaking and was recognized as the 2nd best debate speaker.  Bridget Baldwin placed 3rd in Persuasive Speaking, 4th in Informative Speaking and 5th in debate.  Ben Powell placed 4th in IPDA debate and was awarded 7th best debate speaker. The team of Haylee Hunsaker and Garrett Smith placed 9th in British Parliamentary Debate and Haylee was recognized as the 10th best debate speaker. 

The Lewis and Clark Tournament was held October 9-11 and is the first of three Northwest Forensic Conference tournaments the team will attend.  The team next travels to Linfield College in McMinnville Oregon, November 13-15.

Coach Tom Worthen was pleased with the team's performance. He stated, "This tournament showed depth to the team as it was the new team members who won the most awards, yet the returning members also made a solid contribution. We are always proud of how our USU team does with the resources we have. Other teams have budgets eight to ten times USU's budget, yet we consistently compete in the final rounds and place in overall sweepstakes. I love the students at USU and am thankful for the support that is given to us."

September 25-26, 2015

The USU Speech and Debate team returned from their first tournament of the season at the College of Southern Idaho September 25-26th. WIth three returning students, the team of eight placed 3rd in overall sweepstakes. Awards were give to the top 10 debate speakers.  Annie Worthen, received the award as the top speaker for the tournament, Mariah Andreasen was recognized as the 5th best speaker, Bridgett Baldwin was recognized as the 6th best speaker and Brayden O'Brien was recognized as the 8th best speaker. The British Parliamentary Debate team of Haylee Hunsaker and Garrett Smith placed 2nd at the tournament and Joseph Allred took 4th place in IPDA debate.  Students also placed in individual events with Mariah Andreasen placing 3rd in After Dinner Speaking, Garrett Smith placing 3rd in Persuasive Speaking, Ben Powell placing 5th in Persuasive Speaking, Bridget Baldwin placing 6th in Persuasive Speaking,  and Joseph Allred placing 6th in Extemporaneous Speaking. Coach Tom Worthen stated "It is great that all eight students received recognition. The next tournament, at Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon, is the largest comprehensive tournament in the nation. With two weeks to prepare, we will be in a good position to bring home even more awards at that tournament." The trip to Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon on October 9-11 will be the start of the Northwest Forensic Conference competition. The team has taken first or second place in the conference for nine of the last ten years.  

For more information contact Tom Worthen, 435-994-0023,

Debate Team

Debate 2014-2015

The USU Speech and Debate team returned as champions after competing at their first tournament  Sept 26 and 27th at the College of Southern Idaho. Competing against  Boise State University, College of Southern Idaho, College of Western Idaho, Idaho State University, Northwest Nazarene University and Snow College,  the USU team dominated debate. They had more teams in the elimination rounds than any other school at the tournament. Ashley Waddoups,  in her first college tournament,  took first place in open division debate out of over 36 teams at the tournament. The USU team closed out novice debate taking first, second and third. Taking first place in Novice Debate was Danielle Parker, taking second place was Emily Clark and third place was David Emery. Of the 10 debate speaker awards, which recognizes the 10 best speakers at the tournament, USU took six of ten awards ranking in order: Danielle Parker, David Emery, Jackson Murphy, James Mason, Emily Clark and MaryJulia Gillespie.  Competing in speech, USU had four novice speakers giving their first speeches in a collapsed Sr division that placed at the tournament. Jackson Murphy placed 5th in After Dinner Speaking, James Mason, placed  in 5th Informative Speaking, Garrett Smith placed 4th Informative Speaking  and Shelby Ruud placed 4th in Persuasive Speaking. USU took 2nd in overall sweepstakes losing to Boise State.

Volunteer Coaches Tom Worthen and James Boyd were very pleased with the results as this is a young team with only two returning team members from the 2013-2014 season. The team travels to Lewis and Clark College in Portland Or Oct 9-11, 2014.

If you have questions, then contact Tom Worthen at 435-994-0023

Debate TeamThree in front left to right  Mack Sermon, Jenya Sermon, Tom Worthen (coach-judge)
Next row  MaryJulia Gillespie, Emily Clark, Ashley Waddoups, Garrett Smith, Shelby Ruud
Back Row James Mason, Danielle Parker, David Emery, Jackson Murphy, Ben Powell,
Justin Jerez (coach-judge), and James Boyd (coach- judge

Results of Lewis and Clark Tournament

Competing at the largest speech and debate tournament in the nation, the USU speech and debate team again returned with first place finishes after attending the Lewis and Clark College Tournament in Portland Oregon. In attendance were fifty-five universities from thirteen states and USU took 5th in overall sweepstakes. USU had one of the smallest teams at the competition. Every one of USU's seven students received recognition.

Sophomore Garrett Smith from Evanston Wyoming took first place in Debate with a record of 16 wins and 2 losses. James Mason, David Emery and Ben Powell each took fourth place in debate and Mariah Andreasen, in her first college tournament, placed 9th. Receiving recognition as the best debate speaker at the tournament was Freshman Jackson Murphy. James Mason was recognized as the 4th best speaker and David Emery as the 6th best speaker. In individual speech events, Garrett Smith took first place in Informative Speaking and 4th place in Persuasive Speaking. Mariah Andreasen took first place in Persuasive Speaking. David Emery took third place in Impromptu Speaking. Shelby Ruud took 4th place in Informative Speaking and James Mason took 5th place in Informative Speaking.  

Volunteer Coach, Tom Worthen, stated that he was pleased with these results. "Having such a young team and with only seven students attending the tournament, taking first place in three categories of events and especially first place in debate is really impressive. I work the students hard and take advantage of the 800 mile drive to practice the entire trip. We also have an early morning practice debate at 7:30 am before the tournament even starts. These students rose to the occasion and did an excellent job at such a large tournament."

The team travels to Linfield College in mid November for their second Northwest Forensic Conference tournament. 

If you have further questions, please contact Tom Worthen, 435-994-0023

February 2014

The Utah State Debate team returned from its last Northwest Forensic Conference Tournament. USU competed against 28 other colleges and universities at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR. The team competed in IPDA debate. IPDA is one-on-one debate with the topics changing every round. Debators receive the topic 30 minutes before the debate starts and must research and create a case during that time. Topics ranged in subjects from domestic issues such as whether college students should be required to live on campus, to international issues such as who is to blame for the conflict in the Ukraine. With only five students in attendance, USU had four students receive recognition. Rachel Hebert, a Senior from Colorado, was recognized as the second best debater at the tournament. Garret Smith, a Freshman from Wyoming was recognized as the third best debater at the tournament. Ben Powell, a Freshman from Utah, placed 5th place in debate and Paislie Hill, a Sr from Washington received recognition as the 10th best debater. Tom Worthen, Volunteer Director of the team, stated that "For a young inexperienced team, it was a good showing. We are looking forward to next year when we can bring this core of experience and once again be a contender for the conference title." USU did not place this year in the overall conference championship. Previously they have placed first in the conference seven of the last nine years.

The Northwest Forensic Conference covers all two and four year colleges and universities in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. With a special addition of Utah State and Snow College from Utah. Even though this was the last tournament for USU this year, the team will be meeting this spring to get ready for competition in the fall. If you have interest in joining the team or need further information, then please contact Tom Worthen, Ph.D. at or 435-994-0023.

January 2013

The Utah State Speech and Debate Team returned from its final conference tournament this week taking the Silver award for the Northwest Forensic Conference. Competing with five students at Western Washington University in Bellingham Washington, USU had the smallest team at the tournament. Coach Tom Worthen stated that "It is always rewarding to beat teams that are double our size and with some of them having 30-40 students on their team. Placing well in the conference is especially rewarding when you consider that we are the only university that I know of that does not have any scholarships for team members and a paid coaching staff." The Northwest Forensic Conference consists of 28 colleges and universities in a six state area. The conference championship is given to the school that has the highest point total from the results of the top two conference tournaments. USU has taken the gold award in the conference for seven of the eight previous years.

Individually USU's students placed well. Taking twelve speeches into competition, eight competed in final rounds and four of the five debaters also went to elimination rounds. Justin Jerez placed 2nd at the tournament losing to Carroll College in Helena Mt in the final round in the Open division of IPDA debate. Chloee Butterfield, in her very first tournament, placed 4th in debate dropping a split decision to The College of Idaho on whether prostitution is a victimless crime. Chloee also placed 4th in Informative Speaking and 6th in Impromptu Speaking. Bobby Fausett placed 5th in debate losing on a split decision in the quarterfinals, 5th in Informative Speaking, 4th in Persuasive Speaking and 3rd in After Dinner Speaking. Prairie Fox, placed 4th in debate, 2nd in Informative Speaking and 3rd in Persuasive speaking. Andrea Bouwman placed 6th in Jr. Impromptu.

The trip started out quite eventful as last Thursday the Salt Lake Airport was closed and the team's flight was cancelled to Seattle. After waiting on standby for several flights, the team finally made it to Seattle eight hours later than they had planned. The team travels to St Louis Missouri March 14-17 to compete in the Phi Kappa Delta National Tournament.

For more information please contact Tom Worthen, Ph.D.435-994-0023
If you like what we do, please "Like" us on Facebook and "Follow" us on Twitter.

October 2012

The Utah State Speech and Debate Team returned from its first Northwest Forensic Conference tournament this last weekend. Competing at Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon, the Aggie debaters placed well. There were thirty-eight schools from as far away as Texas and Missouri. Taking a small team of six students, everyone competed in elimination rounds. James Shepard took 2nd place in debate, 6th place in Informative Speaking and 5th place in Impromptu. Justin Jerez placed 3rd place in debate. Prairie Fox and Bobby Fauset toed for 8th place in debate. Sam Mecham placed 3rd place in Persuasive Speaking and 6th place in Extemporaneous speaking. Courtney Bullard placed 6th place in Persuasive Speaking. This is the first of three conference tournaments the team will attend. In November the team will compete at Linfield College in McMinneville, Oregon. Volunteer coach Dr. Tom Worthen stated "This year's team is young with only one Sr member. As more team members attend the next tournaments, our ranking in the conference will improve." USU has taken first in the conference seven of the last eight years. The team is sponsored by the Language, Philosophy and Media Studies Department and The USU Community Credit Union.

Debate First Tournament September 24, 2011

The Utah State University Speech and Debate team returned this weekend from its first tournament of the year at College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. First year coach Tim Worthen took 9 kids including 6 new to the team, and 5 that had never done speech or debate on any level, the team took 3rd overall in the tournament. Individual awards included Novice competitor Tom Mockler receiving an award for being the 8th best speaker overall in Novice NPDA, or team debate. Justin Jerez was the 10th best speaker for open NPDA. In IPDA debate, which is one verse one debate, the team had a really strong showing. Novice competitor Quinn Larsen received the award for being the top overall speaker, as well as going undefeated at the tournament to take 1st. Ashlee Reeder received the award for being the 4th best speaker, and had a record of five wins and one lose to take 3rd. IPDA Open level competitor John Kimball took 4th. The team also showed very well in speech. In impromptu speaking, novice competitor Ashlee Reeder was the number one seed going into finals, and placed 6th. Quinn Larsen took 9th in impromptu. In Novice persuasive speaking, Jordan Tilley took 1st in the tournament, Sylvia Johnson took 3rd, Tom Mockler took 5th, and Ashlee Reeder took 6th. For Informative speaking Open level competitor Cameron Comer took 4th. The team starts their conference schedule in two weeks traveling to Lewis and Clark College near Portland Oregon.