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UW Debate Program Enters Elite Territory at National Competition

April 22, 2022

The University of Wyoming debate program was among seven universities nationwide to qualify three teams for the National Debate Tournament earlier this month at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

UW’s top team placed 34th overall among the nation’s top 78 teams. UW joined Emory University, Harvard University, Liberty University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota and Wake Forest University as the only schools to qualify three teams for the national tournament.

“This year was the first year in the UW program’s history we have qualified three teams, so it also was a historic accomplishment for us,” says Matt Liu, director of forensics and an assistant lecturer in the UW Department of Communication and Journalism. “UW students competed against the best debate teams in the country after qualifying earlier this semester through a hard-fought district tournament.”

Here are details of UW’s three qualifying teams and how they fared:

-- “Wyoming LR”: Lorilei Lassen, a first-year student from West Jordan, Utah, and Ki Radcliffe, a Bentonville, Ark., junior, ended the tournament with four wins, making them the 34th seed. They bested Boston College, James Madison University, Wayne State University and Weber State University. They lost to Tufts University, the University of Kansas, the University of Minnesota and the University of Texas.

-- “Wyoming CM”: Kaitlyn Campbell, a Saratoga junior, and junior Josh Mitchell, from Cheyenne, ended the tournament with three wins. They topped Kansas State University, Missouri State University and Wake Forest University. They were defeated by California State University-Fullerton, Central Oklahoma University, Rutgers University and the University of Houston.

One of the debaters Campbell and Mitchell defeated went on to win the Cross Examination Debate Association national championship the weekend after the national debate competition, Liu says.

-- “Wyoming CP”: Sarah Cole, a Gillette freshman, and EC Powers, a sophomore from Jefferson City, Mo., finished the tournament with three wins. They bested California State University-Fullerton, Emory University and Samford University. They were defeated by Emory University, George Mason University, Northwestern University and the University of Texas-Dallas.

The debate topic was the same throughout the tournament: “Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase prohibitions on anticompetitive business practices by the private sector by at least expanding the scope of its core antitrust laws.”

“Every team at this tournament debated the same topic all year long, meaning most had done the equivalent of a master’s degree thesis’s worth of research on antitrust laws by the end of the year,” Liu says.

For more information about the national competition and UW’s forensics program, email Liu at mliu6@uwyo.edu.

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