Trials and Tribulations, Home and Away
This past weekend, the members of the James Lewis Family Mock Trial Program packed their bags and traveled to compete for Love and Honor. From vans in Columbus, to planes in New York City, MMT's forty undergraduate members competed across the country to kick off the invitational season. At the Scarlet and Grey Invitational, hosted by The Ohio State University, the Baby Badasses (Miami D) and The Real Mockers of Miami (Miami C) fought regional powerhouses and battled their way to a combined 10-6 record. Meanwhile, Miami A and Miami B tackled Columbia University’s Big Apple Invitational Tournament, held in Upper West Side Manhattan. Following four rounds with some of the toughest competition AMTA had to offer, the Mock Hawks ended with a fourth place and three individual awards.
Back on Their Feet - Miami D's Return
Following a 3-5 weekend at the Michigan State Invitational two weeks prior, Miami’s Developmental team was more than ready to return to the well. "We're looking to make a name for ourselves," defense attorney Reese Wells said before the start of opening ceremonies.
Their first round would be against a familiar face. Running defense against Michigan State University, Miami 1078 split the ballots, +5 -1 in a very close competition. The split was "disappointing, but not the end of the world," Christina Morales told her teammates.
The second and third round would consist of running plaintiff side against Loyola B, and then defense against Loyola A. Loyola, a top 50 ranked team within AMTA, gave three ballots to Miami’s baby team, with total differences of +6, -10, +6, +7 respectively. "This just seems to be a trend - us hitting B and then A teams with surprising results," Chase Shelton chimed in.
On a late Sunday afternoon, Miami D would stare down Bellarmine University, a regional powerhouse. "We enjoy a great history of competition with Bellarmine," Coach Alex Block said in a pregame chat. In fact, Bellarmine University's team is advised by former MMT coach, Melissa Schuett. In an intense fourth round clash, Bellarmine and Miami split the ballots at +12, -5.
Thus the babies ended their second weekend 5-3, bringing their seasonal total to 8-8. "Sometimes .500 is what you need to clear the air," Adam Myers said. "We're looking forward to walking into our next tournament confident, and leaving with a win.”
A Familiar Setting - Miami C with Nostalgic Success
For half of Miami #1077 competitors, the Scarlet and Grey Invitational was their very first collegiate mock trial experience. With five new Mockhawks under their wing, the Real Mockers of Miami streamed into the Franklin County Courthouse hoping to paint the town Miami Red. "Of course it's a little nerve racking," first year competitor Hannah Shepard said, "but, with the support we have from the older students, I feel a lot better".
In Miami C's first round of the 2014-15 season, the team went up against Eastern Michigan University, who had also recently competed in East Lansing against Miami D. Miami C #1077 redeemed their younger competitors and swept EMU +8, +9. "Talk about kicking off the season! We are so proud of our first years!" Captain Lisa Silshtut exclaimed after the first round.
A Mock Trial tournament would not be complete without incredible turns of drama and intensity. That story arch took the form of a second round bout against eventual tournament champions, Ohio State University. Just like Miami D had faced in East Lansing, Michigan, the "Real Mockers of Miami" were going to take on MMT Alum Allie Pickerill's OSU team. The C team was ecstatic to go up against the students of their past mentor. Miami would split the round +4 -5 - eerily reminiscent of what Team 1078 had done two weeks earlier. "It's stories like this that make Mock Trial lore," second year attorney Ryan Rugani told his teammates, "There's something about playing people you know and respect that brings the game to an entirely new level. That new level is what we saw in the second round".
This split would be indicative of Miami C's time in Columbus. The third round brought a +4, -8 split against Bellarmine, and round four brought a heart breaking split of +18, -1, which kept the Mockhawks from placing. "We got pretty close, which is saying something when you've got five of us first years out here," Katy Kostenko expressed.
Miami C would have one Outstanding Witness award given to Zachary Stevens who achieved 19 ranks on the plaintiff side of the case. This is Zach's first award.
Miami B Prepares for Takeoff
Eagerly awaiting the first challenge at Columbia Law School, Miami B chose to take on the B team of their host school, Columbia University. Competitors were fired up. "I can sense some greatness here. But only the scores will tell us if we're actually onto something," sophomore Imokhai Okolo stated. Those scores reported Miami split the ballots +15 -8, "It's certainly frustrating, but we have to shake it off, and focus on playing our game,"Jazmine Kee declared.
The second round would bring an even more difficult opponent. The B team ran plaintiff against Columbia A, but could not find the fire they needed, and dropped both ballots to the host school. "Talk about a trial by fire," first year competitor Dani Kunkel lamented after the round. Miami B ended the day at 1-3, disappointed but more determined than ever.
Miami B rallied behind a readjusted plaintiff side and were set to take on Yale A, a team lead by Raymond Zhu, who would be crowned the highest ranking attorney at CUBAIT. The third round featured an electric direct of Julia Luna, but unfortunately the B Team would drop two ballots.
The fourth round was decided, and Miami B faced Princeton University, the National Runner-Up just last spring. Going into their final round with a record of 1-5, Miami B finally caught fire and was able to take two ballots off Princeton, allowing the nine sophomores and one freshman to breathe a little easier. "Playing strong programs early on the year will benefit us in the long run," Spencer Tackett reminded his team.
Miami B had one award in closing ceremonies, awarded to Henry Leaman for 19 ranks on the defense side. This is his first award of the year, and his fourth award in his mock trial career.
Bring in the A Team: How to Start a Legacy in 4 Rounds or Less
NYC was unfamiliar ground to all but two competitors with Miami A. Matt Meeks and Monika Mudd had competed at CUBAIT their sophomore year and were excited to return to Manhattan. "There's a certain energy in New York that you don't feel anywhere else," Matthew stated. “It inspires an intense spirit of competition.”
The Captains of Miami A aren’t the only one to believe CUBAIT inspires intense competition. Behind GAMTI, the Beach Party, and the Downtown, CUBAIT offers four rounds against Ivy Leagues and National Competitors, all throwing down at Columbia Law.
Miami was the 4th team challenged at opening ceremonies - their first opponent would be Yale A, who had battled against this exact Miami team at Nationals in the Spring. Featuring three stellar directs of Matt Meeks playing his first witness role, All-American Monika Mudd, and All-American Elias Demeropolis, Miami A hoped to begin the tournament with a solid 2-0. However, Yale was not easily beaten, and forced the A team to split the ballots +3 -5.
The second round would pit the A team against California Berkeley, the only west coast team at the tournament. Switching gears to defense, attorneys Ben Sandlin and John Spear rose to the occasion, and helped the A team sweep Cal Berkeley +7 +15, allowing Miami A #1075 to end the first day of the tournament at 3-1, tied for second place.
The third round brought the A team up against tournament host Columbia A, who had just taken two ballots off of Miami's B team. In a supreme act of redemption, the A team defended Love and Honor, and swept Columbia A +4 +3, placing them in the fourth round with a chance at the championship.
"You never really know how the tournament stacks, but when you walk into a fourth round against a team you know has a shot at taking first, it's a totally different ball game,” Najeeb Ahmed commented before a fourth round against Duke University. Duke was the only 6-0 team left at CUBAIT and Miami would need to take both ballots if they wanted to win the tournament. Miami fought tooth and nail against national competitor Duke, however the Redhawks would split the ballots +9 -1, which not only kept Miami at a 6-2 record, but allowed Duke to run into closing ceremonies with a 7-1 record and an incredible combined strength.
Still, 6-2 was a powerful start, especially for the first tournament of the year. It granted the A team a 4th place finish, and brought an Outstanding Attorney Award to Matt Meeks, and an Outstanding Witness Award to Monika Mudd. This would be Meeks third individual award with MMT, and Mudd's sixth outstanding witness award.
Dinner with a Legend
After closing ceremonies, both Miami teams were able to meet and dine with the program’s namesake and benefactor, Miami Alum James Lewis and his wife Beth. The Lewis’ have been supremely gracious in their funding of Miami’s Mock Trial program, allowing the teams to compete from coast to coast at some of the best tournaments. Though James Lewis never competed in mock trial, he was extremely impressed when program founder Dan Herron expounded on all the academic benefits of the activity. The James Lewis family has cheered on and supported Miami’s Mock Trial program for the past several years.
At this time, Miami Calls it's Next Witness...
The road ahead is a challenging one for Miami. This Friday, the A team will leave Oxford once again to take on University of Virginia's Great American Mock Trial Invitational.
The following weekend will featured Miami C and D traveling to Xavier University in Cincinnati.
Miami B will not compete for two weeks, when it travels to Bloomington-Normal with Miami C for the Illinois State Mock Trial Invitational.
The A Team
Record: 6-2 | CS: Unavailable | OCS: Unavailable | PD: Unavailable | Team #: 1075
Coaches: Lawrence Hilton, Gus Lazares
Competitors: Matt Meeks, Monika Mudd, Taylor Seay, Najeeb Ahmed, Sam Hobbs, Chelsea Appiah, Ben Sandlin, Elias Demeropolis, John Spear,
The B Team:
Record: 3-5 | CS: Unavailable | OCS: Unavailable | PD: Unavailable | Team #: 1076
Coaches: Neal Schuett, Jaime Glinka
Competitors: Spencer Tackett, Adam Korn, Reeti Pal, Imokhai Okolo, Julia Luna, Dani Kunkel, Katie O'Keeffe, Oliver Zoellner, Henry Leaman, Jazmine Kee
The Real Mockers of Miami (Miami C):
Record: 5-3 | CS: Unavailable | OCS: Unavailable | PD: Unavailable | Team #: 1077
Coaches: Laura Tholke, Zowoi Malakpa
Competitors: Julia Pair, Cali Ford, Christine Ostrosky, Esther Ladipo, Lisa Silshtut, Ryan Rugani, Katy Kostenko, Hannah Shepard, Kyle Denman, Allie Cin
The Baby Badasses (Miami D):
Record: 5-3 | CS: X | OCS: X | PD: X | Team #: 1078
Coaches: Dan Herron, Alex Block
Competitors: Sydney Scribner, Bella Seesburg, Chase Shelton, Adam Myers, Austin Worell, Jay Kranzdorf, Reese Wells, Tarah Mason, Addison Caruso, Cristina Morales
Henry Leaman (∆, 19 ranks)
Matt Meeks (∆, 16 ranks)
Zach Stevens (π, 19 ranks)
Monika Mudd (π, 17 ranks)
Tab Summary Unavailable (CUBAIT)