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UW Debate Team Having Successful Season

February 1, 2018

It has been another busy but successful season for the University of Wyoming debate team, especially with a group that has tripled in size since last year.

The team has had some notable highlights from the year, including reaching the final round of the fall semester regional championship, offering a new debate format that has expanded opportunities for students and hosting hundreds of high school students from the state later this month.

 “Our students really do manage to accomplish incredible things, and I am an incredibly proud director,” says Travis Cram, UW’s director of forensics.

Among the team’s current highlights:

-- In policy debate competition, the team has continued to compete -- and win -- against many of the nation’s private schools and public research universities. Among the schools were Cornell University, Northwestern University, New York University, Gonzaga University, University of Southern California, University of Washington, University of Minnesota and the University of Texas-Austin.

-- The senior duo of Carter Henman, of Cheyenne, and Spencer Culver, of Kansas City, Mo., had a strong first semester, reaching the final round of the District 2 Fall Championship. The pair also has reached either the Final Four or the Elite Eight during three January competitions.

-- A sophomore duo of Brent Lamb, of Kansas City, Mo., and Riley Talamantes, of Boise, Idaho, has reached the elimination rounds of every tournament, Cram says.

“The peak of Lamb and Talamantes’ success came during the ‘Texas Two-Step,’ two back-to-back tournaments hosted in Dallas, Texas. During the ‘second step,’ Lamb and Talamantes defeated the ‘first steps’ finalist teams in back-to-back upsets,” he adds. “The future is bright indeed for these young Pokes.”

The team heads to Austin for the final tournament of the regular season next week, with 125 teams from around the country competing.

-- The creation of a new format of debate competition for UW students occurred this year as well, Cram says. British Parliamentary (BP) has been introduced where students are limited to 15 minutes of preparation on a topic without research during that set window of time.

“BP debate offers opportunities for students who have limited time to commit to debate due to demanding majors. As a result, we have seen more science and engineering majors join the team,” Cram says. “With growth of the BP squad projected to double for each of the next two years, we expect to see some exciting results as students gain experience with the format and see their efforts rewarded.”

One team came within a single point of advancing to the elimination rounds at December’s final tournament in Seattle, Wash. Freshman Kenna Noble, of Torrington, and junior Amari Bertagnolli, of Rock Springs, narrowly missed the cut-off at the tournament hosted by Seattle University.

Since the beginning of the fall semester, the BP crew has been hard at work researching current topics and preparing briefs, practicing for the first tournament of the semester in Chicago in a few weeks, Cram says.

Some other team highlights:

-- Late semester, the team partnered with Denver’s Urban Debate League for the annual fall kick-off event. UW undergraduate debaters taught urban league students the “ins and outs” of the year’s debate topic. The team also hosted an information literacy workshop geared toward assisting UW students with preparation for midterm examinations.

-- Later this month, UW’s team will host some of the state’s best high school competitors on campus for the first annual “Pokes Invitational” tournament Feb. 16-17. More than 350 entries from a dozen Wyoming high schools are expected to compete.

“This is a great opportunity for UW’s next generation of students to get acquainted with campus and Laramie,” Cram says.

He adds that, if any UW graduates would like to judge a few rounds or just want to watch the competition, they can email Cram at

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