The Journey to be one of forty-eight
February marks the kickoff of the American Mock Trial playoff season! For the 500+ teams competing across the nation, this means putting aside invitational records, pulling up their bootstraps, and pulling out there all against teams from across the region. With their sights set on a chance at the National Championship Tournament hosted by the University of Cincinnati, Miami B (1076) and Miami Red (1077) attended the first stage of this massive national playoff - regionals. The Regional competitions consist of the standard four rounds, however, there is no "first" or "second place". Instead, teams fight tooth and nail for the top eight "bids", or rights to go to the Opening Round Championship Series. Miami would have to be one of the top eight teams in Pittsburgh in order to advance to National qualifiers (or ORCS) in Louisville, KY hosted by Bellarmine University.
Welcome to the Fray
Pittsburgh was unfamiliar territory for the members of Miami Red. The team, consisting entirely of first year mockers, was excited nonetheless. "This is what it all comes down to," said Tarah Mason. "Our Spring start [in Indiana] doesn't mean anything unless we can win ballots here.”
The first round would pit Miami Red against Case Western University’s A team. Case's team, coached by Miami Alumnus Brad Ouambo, and featuring later double All Regional Attorney and Witness winner, Andrew Breland, would be a tough challenge for Miami's developmental team. Miami would run it's plaintiff side of the case, but unfortunately would drop both ballots, -3 -8. "It's not a great way to start a tournament," captain Sydney Scribner said. "But they have years of experience on us, so it's not a terrible outcome when you keep one ballot under five points".
Miami Red then prepared their defense side against Duquesne University, who had just come off a round playing Miami's B Team. Feeling confident, Jay Kranzdorf took the stand as Officer Dale Williams, helping his team rise above Duquesne, +10 +16. "That's more like it!" competitor Reese Wells exclaimed upon hearing the results.
They would return to their plaintiff side the second morning of Regionals to face the Crusaders of Susquehanna University. Susquehanna, one of the far Eastern teams at the tournament, competed with a style unlike the previous two rounds. Still, this did not faze the Mockhawks, as they went +15 +16 on two ballots against the Crusaders.
The fourth round of AMTA Regionals are guided by what is known as "High-Low Pairings". This means that teams who are at the top of the standings will play teams on the bottom of the standings to ensure that the strongest teams make it to the next round of tournaments. This also allows teams in the middle of the pack to face off against one another for a potential bid. However, even though Miami Red was 4-2, putting them ahead of most teams, they were drawn against the Timberwolves of Northwood A.
Northwood A's last tournament prior to regionals was NYU's Downtown, which is considered the toughest invitational tournament. Northwood A is currently ranked #13 in the nation, features All-American and AMTA veteran Yancy Cobb, and utilizes the strength of a large senior class. This would be the toughest round any of the Miami developmental teams had faced.
The Mockhawks, calling upon the strength of their strong attorneys Julia Pair and Reese Wells, fought for every point. The results were shocking - +4 -1. "They rose to the occasion," coach Zowoi Malakpa said after the dust had settled. "They proved they were a Miami team out there".
By the time closing ceremonies began, Team 1077 was chewing on the remaining fingernails they still had. Though they had a record of 5-3, and an extremely strong chance of taking a bid, however, they had no idea how the other 4-2 teams had done. It came down to the eighth bid, and Miami Red tied with American University B. It went to the first tiebreaker, Competition Combined Strength, that takes into account how each of opposing team had faired in the tournament. They tied again. The second tiebreaker was OCS, or the difficulty of your opponents’ competitors. OCS is entirely out of competitors hands, and in the Moot Court Room of Pittsburgh Law, the bid wound up in the hands of American Univeristy. "For all intents and purposes, that's a bid won in my eyes," program founder Dan Herron told the first years.
Julia Pair would receive an Outstanding Witness Award for her portrayal of child psychologist, Dr. Campbell Solo.
the second time around
Miami B walked onto University of Pittsburgh’s campus with nine-second year competitors and one freshman. For those nine competitors, regionals in Pittsburgh reminded them of last year's regional in either Washington, PA, or in Cincinnati. On the surface, Pittsburgh seemed to be less daunting than the powerhouse invitational they had attended during the fall season. Make no mistake, the AMTA playoffs are unforgiving, and Miami B was well aware that relaxing at the wrong moment could mean the end of their season.
The first round pitted the B team against Duquesne University, a school of 9,000 located in downtown Pittsburgh. "It's always tough facing regional talent. They know the styles and attitudes of the judges," Captain Katie O'Keeffe told us. With that in mind, Miami unleashed a powerful Plaintiff lineup including a strong direct examination by Dani Kunkel of Reeti Pal. With their efforts, Miami took both ballots +16 +9.
The second round put the B team on their defense against Case Western A, who had just swept Miami Red. "Perfect," Spencer Tackett commented when hearing about the matchup. "It's so fun to come to the defense of a Miami team. You feel like the big brother watching over the first years.” Case was also determined to sweep Miami, but the round would be challenging. The Mockhawks performance included a spectacular direct of Jazmine Kee and an exceptional opening statement by Adam Korn. Their hard work showed, as Miami swept Case Western +8 +5.
Sitting at 4-0, Miami had to deal with a high-high pairing against Dickinson College in the third round. Dickinson College was the only other team at the regional sitting at 4-0. Miami's defense began to catch fire with excellent cross-examinations by all defense attorneys and Spencer Tackett, fresh off his personal award from Indiana, had his best closing argument to date, but it would not be enough to rise above later All Regional Witness Amy Fly and All Regional Attorney Kirsten Dedrickson. The Mockhawks could feel it - they had dropped both ballots -6 -4 to the eventual undefeated Dickinson College. The B team would now have to fight tooth and nail for a bid to Louisville.
With a 4-2 record, the High-Low pairing arranged a death match against Pittsburgh B, also at 4-2. The winner would get a bid to ORCS, the loser's season would end, and a split between the two would put them at the mercy of the tab room. "You have no choice but to take two," coach Neal Schuett told his team. “If we take one we put our fate in the hands of the mock gods.” With those words ringing in their ear, Miami came out swinging. They ran a very tight case in chief, and Imokhai Okolo allowed the MockHawks to go into closing arguments with a damning impeachment. After Henry Leaman closed out the case, the Mockhawks took their seats for closing ceremonies…and waited.
The first bid had gone out to Dickinson College, who sat undefeated at the top of the regional. From there it slowly trickled down. Second bid: Pittsburgh A. Third Bid: NYU C. Fourth: Miami University. The program erupted, ecstatic to find they had swept Pittsburgh +9 +13.
Not only that, but first year competitor Dani Kunkel was awarded an Outstanding Attorney Award, an impressive accomplishment for a freshman swing attorney and Reeti Pal would win her second Witness Award.
The Mockhawks left Pittsburgh with not only one bid and three individual awards but also with smiles on their faces.
For the Mockhawks of 1077, their season is over. Only two teams can advance from Regionals from any given school, and that privilege is given to the A and B teams. They will be helping to run the Oxford Regional next weekend along with the members of Miami B.
The B Team will rest for the night, and begin prepping for Louisville ORCS on Wednesday. ORCS will be the toughest competition to date, and the most important one as well. In Louisville, they will have to demonstrate they compete for Love and Honor.
The B Team:
Record: 6-2 | CS: 22 | OCS: 65.5 | PD: +50 | 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: 17 | OCS: 66 | PD: +49 | Team #: 1077
Coaches: Laura Tholke, Zowoi Malakpa
Competitors: Julia Pair, Cali Ford, Sydney Scribner, Jay Kranzdorf, Reese Wells, Tarah Mason, Addison Caruso
Dani Kunkel (∆, 17 ranks)
Reeti Pal (π, 17 ranks)
Julia Pair (π, 17 ranks)