Two members of the University of Wyoming debate team are preparing to compete for a national title.

UW debate team members Mary Marcum, a senior from Omaha, Neb., and Hunter McFarland, a junior from Twin Falls, Idaho, recently qualified for the National Debate Tournament. The event is scheduled April 3-6 in Iowa City, Iowa.

At the conference tournament in Seattle, Wash., Marcum and McFarland were recognized for their speaking prowess, earning individual honors as the fifth- and seventh-best speakers, respectively, in the entire field.

But their more significant accomplishment was the thrilling fashion in which they qualified. After taking two tough losses on the first day to the University of Puget Sound and Weber State, the two UW students rallied to advance to a sudden death elimination round against Gonzaga, where they prevailed on a split decision to earn a spot at the NDT.

Marcum and McFarland’s victory culminated a successful season for UW debaters. Undergraduate students amassed an impressive list of wins, including decisions over Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, the University of Southern California, Whitman College and others. UW debaters collected wins versus some of the most distinguished public research universities as well, including Minnesota, the University of Oklahoma, Iowa and the University of Washington.

“It is clear, from the academic company our debaters keep, that Wyoming students are some of the most hard-working and brightest individuals in the country,” says Travis Cram, director of forensics in the UW Department of Communication and Journalism.

The team’s success is not surprising to Cram. He says UW has a long tradition of success regionally and nationally. UW won the NDT district championships from 2006-2008. UW’s parliamentary debate team won national championships in 1995 and 2003, and claimed the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence championship in 2003.