This past Friday, the McKinney School of Law opened the doors to their 3rd Annual Hoosier Hoedown Invitational and invited in dozens of Mock Trial teams, all willing to bear the cold and the impending storms. The list of competitors included numerous regional powerhouses from Lewis College in Romeoville, Illinois, to Bellarmine University, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Miami chose to send three teams under their red and white banner: Miami B 1076, Miami Red 1077, and Miami White 1078. With the A team enduring a stressful weekend in Brooklyn, New York, it fell upon the three underclassmen teams to carry Love and Honor to the City of Crossroads.
On the road again: the trail for miami white
Due to the Winter Term at Miami University, MMT had to invite it's competitors back to campus early in order to encourage practice and collaboration between teammates, which is especially key following the December case updates. Knowing that Indiana would not pull any punches, Miami White coach Alex Block had his six competitors back in Oxford a week early, with a full practice schedule and hope that the new defense would shine behind strict case law. "It's certainly a tough pill to swallow, getting back into the groove, and only having six competitors," captain Chase Shelton told us. "But it's been done before, Miami's done well [in Indiana] before, so we hope to continue the tradition".
The first pill to swallow: facing a top 50 team from the University of Illinois Chicago. Miami 1078 couldn't avoid the challenge of their numbers, since six competitors is the absolute minimum number of people needed to compete. Despite strong performances by Chase Shelton and Austin Worrell in their first tournament of the semester, the Redhawks tied and dropped a ballot -7.
The second round would put their defense against University of Iowa, who had just faced Miami B. Now starring Chelsea Appiah, who competed at CUBAIT with Miami A last semester, the Mockhawks of 1078 fought the Hawkeyes, but ended up splitting the round -2, +4. With a 1-2-1 start, the Mockhawks began to worry if they could still place in the tournament.
The third round would be a plaintiff round against "The Harvard of the Midwest" the University of Chicago. The White Team would have to rely on a dynamic direct examination of Allie Cin, allowing the Mockhawks to land a big win +17, and close loss to the Maroons by -6 points. "Perhaps the lineup didn't work. Perhaps we didn't meet [U Chicago's] energy levels. A lot of things could go wrong, but a split this wide is always frustrating," witness Allie Cin said following the match.
Walking into the fourth round against Wheaton College was no easy task. Wheaton College is a familiar face to Miami Mock Trial, having dropped three memorable ballots to Wheaton during Nationals two years ago, and having an A team ranked 18th out of all teams in the country. Perhaps it was those statistics putting wind in the Thunder's sails that caused the White Team to lose one ballot -3, or perhaps it was the exhaustion of four rounds for the six double sided competitors that allowed them to lose the other ballot by -7, but regardless of the cause, a tiring fourth round left the six underclassmen walking into closing ceremonies 2-5-1. "It's not an outcome we're happy about. As a Miami team, we feel like we can do better, and I know with some tweaking over these next few weeks, we'll be ready to earn a bid to Louisville," second year Kyle Denman said following the tournament.
48 HOURS: THE BEGINNING OF MIAMI RED
Alex Block wasn't the only Miami Alumnus leading a team into Indiana. He was joined by 2014 Miami alum Brad Ouambo, who was coaching Case Western Reserve University, and Zowoi Malakpa, coaching Miami's Red Development team. Lead by freshman Cali Ford and sophomore Sydney Scribner, the Red Team crossed the state border having only been together since the previous Thursday. "We missed out on the practices, but we make up for it in passion," Cali Ford says.
In their first round, the Red Team faced University of Chicago 1191 (the same team that would hit the White Team later on in the tournament). The only difference between the two encounters would be that the Red Team would begin the round with a bang. The round featured a dynamic witness portrayal by Captain Sydney Scribner, and Tarah Mason would cement the round with a earth shaking cross-examination. "Tarah was unbelievable. She took a traditionally challenging cross and flipped the momentum of the round, definitely the turning point of the trial,” witness Jay Kranzdorf would later say. Tarah would win that one cross examination by 5 points, and would earn 9 ranks as a swing attorney, an extremely difficult feat to accomplish. Sydney would also leave the courtroom with 10 ranks, the highest possible score for a single round. These two, coupled with a solid performance by the team all around, would lead the Red Team above and beyond U Chicago, +7 +4.
The second round took the Red Team's plaintiff against host school Indiana B, who was also 2-0. With Addison Caruso and Julia Pair taking the stand, the Red Team put up a tremendous effort, only to split the round +4 -9. "That last ballot is killer," coach Zowoi Malakpa said mid laugh to his team. "3-1? Not bad, not bad at all." Reese Wells would sarcastically quip that night over dinner.
The third round would be much tougher, as Miami would face Bellarmine B, whose program was dominating the tournament. Miami 1077 would run plaintiff against Bellarmine, who was lead by eventual perfect 20 rank attorney Adam Farr. Just like the first round, the Red Team would pull off a split against the Knights +5 -3. "Two splits isn't anything to be happy with, but Bellarmine's such an impressive squad, so we had a good time and felt better than usual about it," commented Tarah Mason.
Walking into fourth round 4-2, Miami Red was primed and ready to finish the tournament with some hardware. First, though, they would have face Lewis University, a small college based out of Romeoville, Illinois, with a long history of success in AMTA. Despite being able to run their defense side of the case, a new lineup prevented the Mockhawks from using their most successful tactics, and the first years would split the round again +3 -3.
Unfortunately, a 5-3 record was not enough in this tournament to place. However the Red Team would win the Spirit of AMTA award, given to the team voted to have the highest level of sportsmanship.
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW: NEW ROLES BRING FAMILIAR RESULTS FOR MIAMI B
Six weeks prior, 1076 Miami B helped Miami A secure it's second ever Beach Party title. The long winter break that followed was a relaxing, but anxious time for the all-second year team, who were eager to hit the ground running. When the team first met in Oxford five days before Indianapolis, they could feel the energy in the room.
In Indiana, the first round brought the B Team's Plaintiff side against Iowa University, the Alma mater of their head coach, Neal Schuett. Using a tightly run plaintiff side, with new attorney addition Henry Leaman, alongside new roles for Katie O'Keeffe and Julia Luna, the B team shakily made their way through the round. The team was not happy with their effort, and their results showed: +10 from the presiding judge, -11 from the scoring judge. "We got too relaxed in there," said Plaintiff Opener Imokhai Okolo. "It's frustrating that we keep this trend of starting off with splits."
The second round pitted the B Team against another strong opponent, University of Illinois-Chicago, who currently holds the #48 place in AMTA’s Power Rankings. Utilizing new opener Adam Korn and closer Spencer Tackett, the Redhawks barely extinguished the Flames, winning two ballots +2 +3. "It's closer than you'd like," witness Oliver Zoellner said. Oliver, who was able to reprise his defense witness portrayal that won an Outstanding Witness Award at the Beach Party, further mentioned "but, ya know, you have to get the kinks out of the system, and there's bound to be some after winter break."
Sitting 3-1 at the end of day one, the B Team prepped for a second defense round against Loyola Chicago C. The Ramblers also had a fairly young team - only furnishing two second years on their almost all freshman team- and fought with a unbelievable amount of passion. Freshman Dani Kunkel helped add some flare with the round's first cross-examination, and Jazmine Kee, Oliver Zoellner, and Henry Leaman all scored 10s on direct examination, helping the B team rise above Loyola +13 +23. "I love Jaz," Dani said when asked for comment on the round "She takes the stand, and makes the judges forget about everyone else in the room. That’s how who know you have a good direct and a great witness.”
With the tournament a close race for first, the B Team found itself outside of the Championship round, due to dropping that first ballot to Iowa. Instead, Bellarmine (6-0) and University of Chicago (5-0-1), would face off in the Championship round. This didn't discourage the Mockhawks "We're still in the hunt. Given our opponents, and who they've played, there's still a shot for the top," captain Katie O'Keeffe told her teammates prior to a fourth round bout against Indiana B. “We can still manage to sneak up there and win this.” Miami's plaintiff finally hit their groove, defeating the host school with two +10 ballots.
As the team huddled in McKinney School of Law's Moot Court Room, the tournament director revealed how high the bar had been raised: competitors needed 18 ranks for Outstanding Attorney Awards, and 6-2 records only qualified teams for Honorable Mentions. Still, the Mockhawks heard their names called, with Spencer Tackett receiving an Outstanding Attorney Award on the defense with 19 ranks, and with Miami B finishing 2nd place with a record of 7-1. The only team above them was Bellarmine University, sitting 8-0 after four rounds. "It's exciting that we got back into it, but now we need to go for gold: 8-0 in Pittsburgh," coach Jaime Glinka told her team afterwards.
earn your stripes: amta playoffs
With the first of AMTA regionals beginning this upcoming weekend, the Mockhawks will take three weeks to prep for regionals in Pittsburgh, PA, and at home in Oxford, OH. Miami B and Miami Red will travel together to Pittsburgh to take on the likes of Northwood, Pittsburgh, and Michigan State. Miami White will join the A-Team in four weeks for intense competition between National hopefuls Eastern Kentucky, Ohio State, Cincinnati, and Kentucky.
The B Team:
Record: 7-1 | 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
Record: 5-3 | CS: Unavailable | OCS: Unavailable | PD: Unavailable | Team #: 1077
Coaches: Laura Tholke, Zowoi Malakpa
Competitors: Julia Pair, Cali Ford, Sydney Scribner, Jay Kranzdorf, Reese Wells, Tarah Mason, Addison Caruso
Record: 2-5-1 | CS: X | OCS: X | PD: X | Team #: 1078
Coaches: Dan Herron, Alex Block
Competitors: Bella Seesburg, Chase Shelton, Austin Worell, Cristina Morales, Allie Cin, Kyle Denman
Spencer Tackett (∆, 19 ranks)