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The Western ‘Talking Catbirds’ win big with state championship

Some students have extreme athletic talents and compete in sports; others can draw or write masterfully and enter into national contests; while others still have the talent of speaking fast and dominating discussions.
Two of Western’s “fast talkers” proved their meddle at Webster University over the weekend by winning a state championship in Parliamentary-style debate.
Chris Miles, junior, and Casey Huffman, freshman, stole all 10 ballots over the course of three preliminary rounds, semifinals and finals, a feat that is “very rare.”
“It was amazing, really,” says Miles, referencing the feeling of winning a state competition. “Starting the tournament off, we really had no clue where we might end up.”
The Western team’s accomplishment is even more impressive considering the fact that Miles and Huffman had never competed together before. Miles typically debates with Western debate star Michael Smith, junior.
“Mike and I are very fast, technical debates,” notes Miles. “Local tournaments like this one typically have more lay-type judges, who don’t like fast, technical debates. So, we decided that Casey and me might have a better skill set in winning Missouri judges.”
Going into the tournament, the two knew that their changeup could prove risky.
“Starting off, I thought one of two things would happen— we’d either win the all in a landslide, or everything would fail and we’d come home with nothing to show for our work,” Miles remarked. “But, after three straight wins in prelims, I knew it was gonna snowball.”
The championship sweep was a victory not only for the students, but also for Western explains Jason Edgar, Missouri Western’s director of speech and debate.
“Chris and Casey shined at the State tournament,” commented Edgar. “Winning Missouri Western’s first ever State Championship in Parli is great, and it’s even better that we did it with a 10-0 undefeated record.”
But, Miles and Huffman were not the only shining stars from Western at the tournament. Edgar was named “Coach of the Year” in Missouri for being one of two coaches of a team that earned a first round bid to the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, a prestigious, invite-only debate competition.

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