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UW Debate Team Has Successful Fall Season

December 9, 2014

The University of Wyoming debate team reached the elimination round of every tournament it attended during the fall season, including reaching the elite eight of a competitive event in Las Vegas.

During the recent season, a number of debate team members and individuals placed against some of the nation’s top schools.

The Pokes had their best collective performance of the season at the Las Vegas Classic, hosted by UNLV in mid-October. With 100 teams from around the country competing, UW advanced four individual teams to the elimination rounds.

Seniors Ben Berry, Cheyenne, and Bethany Jones, Green River, finished fifth in the open division after storming through the elimination rounds with victories over UNLV and Weber State.

In the junior competition, Dallas Coursey, a Green River freshman, and John Fritz, a Fairfield, Texas, junior, assembled a string of wins against the University of Oregon, Johnson County Community College, Cal State-Northridge, Arizona State and Weber State, eventually reaching the Elite 8. They placed fifth overall.

In the open division, the teams of Cullen Dilldine, a Craig, Colo., junior, and Mary Marcum, an Omaha, Neb., senior; and sophomore Spencer Culver, Kansas City, Mo., and junior Hunter McFarland, Twin Falls, Idaho, both tied for 17th place in the elimination rounds, with wins over academic powerhouses such as the University of Southern California, Gonzaga, Pepperdine and Oregon.

Marcum also was honored for her individual speaking prowess and was ranked as the 17th best individual speaker in the field.

At the Logger Invitational, hosted by the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., sophomores Carter Henman, Cheyenne, and Courtney Thomson-Lichty, Casper, placed third overall, after reaching the final four. Thomson-Lichty also was named the ninth overall speaker, and Berry finished one place back.

Competing in Kansas City at the “Baby Jo Memorial Debates,” hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the competition drew more than 110 teams from around the country. The Pokes had five teams in attendance and picked up victories against big-name schools, including the University of Iowa, Pittsburgh, Kansas, Kansas State and North Texas.

The best performance of the weekend belonged to Marcum and Dilldine who advanced to the elimination rounds after posting wins against George Mason University, Arizona State, California State-Fullerton, University of Texas-Dallas and Weber State University. The UW pair finished in a tie for 17th place after losing to the University of California-Berkeley.

Dilldine and Marcum also competed at the prestigious Val Browning Round Robin, hosted by Weber State College in Ogden, Utah. The elite, invite-only competition involved 18 of the best teams in the country, including the reigning national champions from Emporia State, the best individual debater from last year, and several other top-10 teams in the nation.

UW’s duo claimed one victory against Kansas State University during the stiff completion. Also, at the tournament, Travis Cram, UW director of forensics, was named the Coach of the Year by the Val Browning Foundation.

Weber State also hosted the “Mukai Invitational” debates following the round-robin tournament. Five UW teams competed.

Competing in the junior division, Coursey and Fritz narrowly missed the cutoff for elimination rounds, despite posting a winning record that included victories against Nevada-Las Vegas, Weber State and Southwestern College.

In the open division, Culver and McFarland had a break-out performance with preliminary victories against UNLV, Weber State and Puget Sound. The two faced off with Stanford University in the elimination rounds, narrowly losing on a split decision, placing 17th overall.

Marcum and Dilldine returned with a ninth place finish, defeating Liberty University in the first elimination round before bowing out to the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the Sweet 16 on a split decision.

“The long list of accomplishments this semester would not be possible without the hard work and determination of this group of undergraduate students,” Cram says. “Pokes debaters easily log 20 to 30 hours a week, working on research, practicing and strategizing, in addition to their regular schoolwork. It is clear that their efforts are paying off in a big way as UW once again is demonstrating that it can compete academically with the nation’s best.”


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Chad Baldwin

Institutional Communications

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Phone: (307) 766-2929

Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

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