PUTTING THE RIGHT FOOT FORWARD
Over the last three weeks, the James Lewis Family Mock Trial program has competed in three separate tournaments. From the classrooms at the University of Dayton all the way to the streets of Manhattan, MMT has kicked off their season with a bang. All four Miami teams dove into the University of Dayton's Flyer Invitational with high spirits. The Flyer Invitational was an inaugural event featuring a two round tournament hosted at University of Dayton School of Law. The MockHawks left Dayton with a collective record of 16-4, placing First, Second, and Third (for The A, B, and C teams respectively). The ballots from Dayton gave the competitors the drive to continue their success, although many acknowledged how difficult the road ahead was. “Dayton was a perfect opportunity to stretch our legs and shake off the rust,” B team witness Chase Shelton stated. “Now we have to get in gear for Harvard and Yale at CUBAIT [next week].”
The fall semester schedule holds twist, turns, and challenges for all four teams. The A team and B team would pack their bags that week, and fly to New York City, all just to compete at the Columbia University Big Apple Invitational (CUBAIT). At the end of the road lay love and honor - the only question that remained was how would Miami get there.
50/50: FOLLOWING MIAMI B IN NYC
The B team began CUBAIT by facing off against a familiar rival: NYU B. As the second year competitors prepared to head into their first nationally competitive round, junior Allie Cin exclaimed, “Time to bring it!” Cin’s comment proved to be prescient, as the Redhawks romped to a sweep of both ballots (+8, +10). Leaving the round with soaring confidence, the B team began to contemplate their next challenge.
When the second round pairings were announced, Miami was matched with the defending national runner-up, Yale A. The Miami competitors steeled themselves for what they knew would be a tough, competitive round against an opponent who would be contending for a championship for the rest of the year. At the end, Miami was unable to match Yale’s demeanor and style and they dropped both ballots to the near champions, -4 -6. Second year competitor Tarah Mason accurately summed up the round by saying, “We just didn’t adjust to their case in chief as well as we should have. The round was ours to win and we didn’t take advantage [of it].”
Eager to rebound in the third round, the Redhawks were again paired with NYU, but this time, Miami would face their C team. Looking to vault themselves back into contention for first place, Miami launched an all out assault during their case in chief. Dominant witness portrayals by Allie Cin, Chase Shelton, and Henry Leaman catapulted Miami ahead during the Prosecution’s case. Their efforts landed Miami a close split (+3, -7).
Instead of being despondent, the B team showed resiliency as they looked ahead to Cornell A, another perennial Northeastern powerhouse. Running an entirely new defense, the Redhawks introduced sophomore competitor Bella Seeberg to the new season. Attorneys Seeberg, Adam Korn, and Henry Leaman made strong evidentiary arguments, which severely damaged the Prosecution’s case before the Defense even called a witness. The Mockhawks left the room with mixed feelings. “Often times you just feel it.” Adam Korn commented after the round. “Sometimes you know who should win, but you don't show discipline during the round. It's something we're going to have to work on.” With a lopsided split of (+32, -11), the B team ended the tournament with a 4-4 record.
“We just need to be cleaner, better, stronger, and more precise. We have the talent and tools to perform at the highest level, but we have to execute perfectly in every second of every round,” said B team coach Gus Lazares. It will be up to Coach Lazares and the ten competitors to tweak their theories in preparation for the Grand Ole Tournament this upcoming weekend. Ryan Rugani shared his sense of urgency “I mean, Vanderbilt has assembled some of the top programs in the country. We're going to have to hold our own against them as well.”
A REPUTATION TO UPHOLD; MIAMI A GOES THE DISTANCE
As Miami’s contenders filled the hall in anticipation for the soon-to-be clash of institutional titans, featuring the likes of Yale, Harvard, and Columbia, it was clear that they weren’t to be disappointed—the tournament set itself off to an explosive start when Harvard University elected to challenge Miami’s A team - pitting the defending national champions, Harvard, against Miami University, who had placed third at last year’s National Championship Tournament in Cincinnati. This newfound rendition of their longtime rivalry placed Miami’s Prosecution against Harvard’s Defense.
Harvard, propelled by the efforts of Jordan Alston Harmon, member of last year’s championship Crimson squad, was neck-and-neck with the Redhawks throughout the round. However, the defending champions’ efforts weren’t enough as Miami came away unscathed— triumphant in a 2-0 sweep, +9 +11. Such a showcase would not be worth discussing without mentioning Junior Imokhai Okolo, an attorney for the prosecution. He delivered a scathing blow to the Crimson when he prevented the majority of one of Harvard’s witnesses’ testimony from entering onto the record—aiding the A-team in their efforts to victory.
Moving forward, Miami’s A-team found themselves up against a familiar face and hometown favorite: New York University. Given NYU’s familiarity with the Big Apple, they were in no position to lose a match at their own stomping ground. However, Miami’s top squad of attorneys, led by Miami Senior John Spear, carried the momentum from their prior success over Harvard and launched themselves ahead of the Violets in a clean sweep, +11 +12.
Following a night of rest, the Redhawks were at it once more as they faced Yale’s Defense side of the case. Senior Ben Sandlin deflated Yale's defenses and Sophomore Danielle Kunkel demonstrated a particularly biting cross-examination. Yale would rise to the challenge. All-American Witness Michael Byrnes and All-American Attorney Sarah Cohen put on an incredible show (each would win high ranking awards by the tournaments end). However, Miami A’s stacked team slightly outweighed Yale enough to take one ballot +2 and tie the other.
The A-team headed into the last round of the tournament wrought with nervous anticipation. Unaware of their record, they entered the final fray preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Their last round of the tournament would be against American University, coached by Miami alum and All-American Witness Michael Woeste. From the outset it was clear that these two teams would be evenly matched—both demonstrating unprecedented levels of experience, talent, and focus. Featuring an engaging direct by Miami’s Reeti Pal, it was clear that the Redhawks weren’t going down without a fight.
Unsure of their record, the A team entered closing ceremonies with their fingers crossed. One by one, individuals from both teams were called for awards. Junior Imokhai Okolo would take away a witness award with 18 ranks and Senior John Spear would take the top attorney award with a perfect 20 ranks. Second year competitor Allie Cin would walk away with her first witness award. When it was time for team awards, the MockHawks sat forward in their seats. Teams were called, until there was only one award left. That award, the first place trophy, belonged to a 7-0-1 Miami A, who had swept the final round by large margins: +24 +25.
NEXT ON THE DOCKET...
There is no rest for MMT. The next two weeks hold competitions for all the teams. For the A and B teams, they will be traveling to Nashville, TN, to compete at the Grand Ole Tournament, hosted by Vanderbilt University. The Grand Ole Tournament (GOT) has been created to be the successor to the famed California-Irvine Beach Party Invitational, a tournament known for it's March-Madness based setup. The A and B teams will compete in tandem, under the banner of Miami University, against some of the top competition in AMTA. They leave town this Friday.
For the C and D teams, they enjoy a weekend off while the battle rages on in Nashville. Awaiting them the following weekend is the Illinois State University Invitational Tournament, hosted in Bloomington-Normal, IL. While the C team enjoys their success this weekend, Illinois State has a lofty challenge for them - in the last three years, Miami has not finished below second place. It will be up to the C team and growing D team to continue the tradition, and learn for themselves the glory of Love and Honor.
Editors Note: Miami A and B would take First Place at the Grand Ole Tournament, while Miami C and D would take First and Third Place at the Illinois State Invitational. As of publishing (11/18/15), Miami A is preparing to leave for UVA's Great American Mock Trial Tournament (GAMTI), while Miami B and C are leaving for upstate New York, to compete at Cornell University's Big Red Invitational Classic (BRIC).
The A Team
Record: 7-0-1 | CS: 16 | OCS: NA | PD: +94 | Team #: 1053
Coaches: Neal Schuett, Jaime Glinka
Competitors: Najeeb Ahmed, Ben Sandlin, Elias Demeropolis, John Spear, Reeti Pal, Imokhai Okolo, Dani Kunkel, Katie O'Keeffe
The B Team:
Record: 4-4 | CS: 15 | OCS: NA | PD: -17 | 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
John Spear (∆, 20 ranks)
Allie Cin (π, 17 ranks)
Imokhai Okolo (∆, 18 ranks)