10 hours away from home, Miami B and C geared up for their final trials of 2015. A cold Ithaca, New York, served as the final venue of the year. Before them lied an impressive pool of schools; Furman University, Brown University, Texas at Austin, and the hosts, Cornell University. It would be Miami's first time at the Big Red Invitational Classic (BRIC), and they were determined to set the bar high.
ON FIRE: MIAMI C IMPRESSES at CORNELL
Going into this weekend, Miami C had attended two tournaments, taking second and first place at both. It had been a remarkable start to the year- one with success unmatched by previous years for developmental teams- but the fall semester would all come down to this. Could they continue the stampede? Could they rise above the pool, and claim their third trophy of the year?
They hoped to do so, and they wanted to do so in style. Round One was decided by teams selecting their opponents, in a draft style format. So when it came Miami C's turn to pick, they selected a challenging opponent. Miami C challenged University of Pennsylvania A, who elected to take the prosecution in the first round. "Being the defense in the first round is stressful, especially in this case," captain Jay Kranzdorf told us, "but we've completely redone this defense, so I for one am eager to see it in action". This newly tweaked side began with sophomore Julia Pair giving the opening statement. From there, the Mockhawks took off against UPenn, and soared into a two ballot sweep; +5 +7. This was aided by incredible directs of sophomore Da'Rya McAllister and freshman Maci Woyat. Sophomore Reese Wells also added to the pile up, "When we're all feeling [the round], we all seem to just up the intensity."
The second round brought Miami C back against UPenn, except this time, they would play UPenn C. Now acting as the Prosecution, Miami C needed to roll through the Quakers. Freshman Ariel Shuster and sophomore Julia Pair would take the witness stand, and sophomore Reese Wells would take some of UPenn's momentum during cross-examination. "We really felt the trial going our way" Julia Pair said after the round, "there were a few ugly moments, but we didn't get hung up on them. I don't think the judges did either". Unfortunatly, the judges did. Miami C split the round; -2 +14.
In the third round, Miami C would be drawn up against Fordham University's Prosecution. Rosanna Corrado led the Rams, moving at ramming speed toward the C team. The Mockhawks would have to place Jay Kranzdorf on the witness stand, and spirits were high. "Just watching the round, it seemed like we asserted ourselves during our case in chief. From there, we just played our game" freshman Eashwar Nagaraj told us. "When you're 3-1, you always have to be worried" said self-admitted pessimist Cali Ford, "Sometimes there are those moments in trial that just linger in your head...Food for thought over the next few weeks". Ford's ominous worries matched the rulings of the judges. Miami C dropped both ballots, -5 -4. Sitting 3-3, Miami C was faced with two options- sweep the fourth round, and go positive, or drop just one ballot, and end the weekend at .500 or worse. "When the chips are down, we have no other option than to just run train on somebody" Ariel Shuster said. Da'Rya McAllister would put it more simply, "We just gotta....we just gotta".
Now some may call it irony, but the truth of the matter was that in the fourth round, Miami C was again paired to face UPenn. "We should have just driven to UPenn and saved the gas money" Maci Woyat joked before round. This time, Miami would run Prosecution against UPenn B, and fortunately, they were feeling it. Ariel Shuster was on a roll- she had ended her defense attorney rule with 18 ranks (just one rank shy of an award at BRIC), and she had been positive in round one. Shuster would continue to turn up the heat, and teammates Eashwar Nagaraj and Jay Kranzdorf would join in, winning their crosses by 2 and 5 points respectively. However, with the tournament teetering in the balance, Miami ran into unexpected rulings by the presiding judge that threw the Mockhawks into a spiral of confusion. They had to make dramatic adjustments to respond to judging, which left them with an uneasy feeling. "I just trust our witnesses to carry us" Reese Wells told us, "Even when the rulings come out of left field, Miami witnesses just know what they're doing". They would learn their results at closing ceremonies, and despite the ceremony being only 45 minutes later, those 45 minutes felt like an eternity,
TIME TO SHINE: MIAMI B SLAYS
For Miami B, the road had been glamorous, but not golden. A shaky 4-4 record earned them an honorable mention at CUBAIT, and a 5-2-1 record at Vanderbilt's Grand Ole Tournament proved enough to help the program win the First Place trophy. "I mean, it's positive" captain Sam Hobbs would tell us "but you never want to be 'just good enough'. You want Miami to be that number one team. " Here, in Ithaca, that was Miami B's goal.
Competing under the name "Miami A", the B team received the first pick in the challenge order. Who did they choose as their first opponents? Furman University; who had played Miami B just two weeks prior.
In fact, Furman University tied a ballot with the Redhawks, and Miami was looking to strike the balance. Furman represented the State of Midlands, and they were led by a decorated Kaitlyn Pugh and Claudia Cornelison; both who received awards at the Grand Ole Tournament. Miami trotted out star witnesses Christina Romine, Ryan Rugani, and Sam Hobbs, all who helped the fight against the Paladins. "Our witnesses are really the strongest part of our case. They slayed," sophomore Bella Seeberg said after the round. Senior Christina Romine would add to that sentiment "You can always expect a great round from Furman, I just hope what we did was enough". With fingers crossed, Miami B learned they swept the round; +5 +7.
The second round drew Miami B up against American A; an all too familiar opponent again. For coach Gus Lazares, American A represented a program polished by friend and Miami All-American Michael Woeste. For competitors Henry Leaman and Adam Korn, American represented a vicious battle. "We played them in a do-or-die fourth round trial at ORCS last year. They fought tooth and nail, and we're going to have to be big to keep up with them" captain Adam Korn said. More specifically, Miami would have to keep up with American senior Eliana Peck and junior Jenna Forster. The call to action would be answered by the B team's second-year competitors; Chase Shelton, Austin Worrell, Tarah Mason, and Allie Cin presented the B team's tightest case in chief yet. "Our prosecution did pretty well in Nashville, and we somehow managed to turn it up another notch. Definitetly happy with how the round went" sophomore Chase Shelton said optimistically. However, some of Miami's tactics and techniques would fall short. Despite taking the presider's ballot +12, Miami B would split the round, dropping the scoring judge's ballot -3.
In round three, Miami would face Cornell College B, putting Miami back on the defense. The round brought an incredible twist; Cornell College's witness call would force Miami to ditch their primary witness, and their secondary witness. Tarah Mason would have to be Miami B's tertiary witness. It was an uphill battle from there. Cornell College witness Kahn Branch proved unstoppable, despite junior Henry Leaman's attempts. "I got one or two key objections in" Leaman said "and I've competed with him once or twice now, but every time you play Cornell College, you know Kahn is going to put on a show" Leaman's comments would be further compounded in closing ceremonies, as Kahn would receive an outstanding witness award for this very portrayal. "We don't let off the gas for one witness." junior Ryan Rugani said following Cornell College's case-in-chief, "let's bounce back, and bounce back hard". Senior Sam Hobbs nursed a very hoarse voice, but still delivered a perfect score on one ballot. After the fireworks of closing arguments, The B Team learned that they had split the round, +3 -3. Captain Adam Korn summed up the team's reaction in one word "Tears".
With a record of 4-2, Miami B lied in the middle of the pack. They were still, as program founder Dan Herron would say, 'in the hunt'. No teams were undefeated, and only a handful of teams had five wins. "You control your own destiny" coach Gus Lazares told his team, and the B team felt confident in their prosecution case. "The prosecution went 3-0-1 at the Grand Ole Tournament," Austin Worrell said, "Once we swapped a witness, changed a direct, and sharped a couple of crosses, I felt that this side had no holes". Adam Korn was the new witness Worrell referred to, and Korn certainly made a difference. Korn had a perfect round; tens on direct, tens on cross, and ten out of ten ranks. Allie Cin recalled her favorite part of Korn's direct; when Korn was asked to identify the defendant, he replied, "Yeah, the defendant is sitting right over there, with the American flag pin- God Bless America!-". Korn's performance wasn't the only highlight; Allie Cin and Chase Shelton were, as they would call it, "slipping and sliding on direct". "We spent all night coming up with a new story for Chase" sophomore Tarah Mason told us. They would have to cross their fingers, and hope their efforts would be enough.
FINGERS CROSSED: CLOSING CEREMONIES
If there was one theme that developed in the closing ceremonies at BRIC, it was "difficulty". It would take 17 ranks to receive a witness award, and a stunning 19 ranks to receive an attorney award. The Redhawks would soar above those requirements. Miami C's Da'Rya McAllister earned her second witness award of the year, and Miami B's Austin Worrell earned his third outstanding attorney award.
Once team awards begun, the Mockhawks grew tense. Only five teams were announced, and four of the five teams had six wins. It would be bittersweet for Miami; the C team had swept the final round, +4 +11, but their 5-3 record would leave them just shy of placing. For the B team, they learned that they also swept the fourth round, +6 +13, but a 6-2 record would not be enough on it's own. There was a four way tie for second place! Miami B would beat out Furman and Cornell College on Combined Strength, but the B team tied again with American University, leading to the second tiebreaker; Point Differential (PD). American came in with a PD of -5, but Miami ended with a PD of +40! They would take second place with gusto, trailing behind the first place team by only half a ballot.
This concluded the Fall Semester for both teams. With Miami's winter break right around the corner, the competitors are looking forward to the six weeks away from campus. Know, however, that their minds won't drift too far from Mock Trial. They can't afford to; not when they've invested this much Love and Honor.
The B Team:
Record: 6-2 | CS: 21 | OCS: NA | PD: +40 | Team #: 1054
Coaches: Gus Lazares
Competitors: Adam Korn, Sam Hobbs, Ryan Rugani, Christina Romine, Henry Leaman, Chase Shelton, Bella Seeberg, Austin Worrell, Allie Cin, Tarah Mason
Record: 5-3 | CS: NA | OCS: NA | PD: +30 | Team #: 1055
Coaches: Alex Block
Competitors: Addison Caruso, Caroline (Cali) Ford, Jay Kranzdorf, Da'Rya McAllister, Eashwar Nagaraj, Julia Pair, Ariel Shuster, Reese Wells, Maci Woyat
Austin Worrell (π, 19 ranks)
Da'Rya McAllister (∆, 18 ranks)