Party Like Its 2003: Miami Takes First Place at the Cornshucker Challange

Thirteen Years in the Making...

In 2003, Miami University took First Place at the University of Iowa's Cornshucker Challenge. In a field of schools like UChicago, University of Virginia, and the National Champion Iowa Hawkeyes, Miami rose to the top. They did so with one competitor carefully watching from a distance: Iowa Senior Neal Schuett.

Schuett would have the chance to win back his Cornshucker prize, coaching Iowa to back to back Cornshucker victories in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, Schuett would leave his home state of Iowa to join MMT's coaching staff, but the prospect of the Cornshucker was never too far from his mind.

Six years later, Neal Schuett would finally get another shot at his home tournament. Miami 1102 would step up to the plate, eager to win one for their Program Director and Head Coach. Schuett was not the only motivating factor: Iowa City was Senior Allie Cin's last tournament, and the Seniors wanted to make sure she went out out with a bang. 

Dreaming of Greenville

With the second challenge overall, Miami A would challenge Furman University, who elected to take the Defense side. Miami's plaintiff would be missing a key component: Senior Reeti Pal. "She's given us two weekends during Med School interview season" coach Jaime Glinka told us "So we know she needs some time to focus on her career." With Senior Henry Leaman filling in for Pal, Miami A was ready to bring the axe down in the first round.

With a strong opening statement from Imokhai Okolo, and a great leadoff witness in Maria O'Keeffe, the Mockhawks secured their first two ballots of the weekend: +11 +6.

friendly faces on the other side

"There is no team in AMTA more friendly than NYU" Senior Ryan Rugani told us, "and no team more competitive either." The Bobcats of NYU, currently ranked in the top ten, had sent their B team to Iowa, and they would be Miami's second opponents. 

NYU B pulled no punches, with rising star Papa Yaw Sencherey taking the stand first. Senior Allie Cin  describes Sencherey's effect in the round,"We started out behind. [Sencherey] did really well, and we had to work hard to swing momentum around." Senechery would leave the round with 9/10 possible ranks. When Miami's witnesses testified, Senior Allie Cin came in big, beating her crossing attorney by three points. Thanks to her momentum, Miami A swept NYU B +11 +9. "It was such a fun round. Everyone was having a good time, and we hope we see them more this season" Junior Dani Kunkel said after the round.

midwestern showdown

Sitting at the top of the tournament, Miami A controlled their own destiny. They were projected to run their plaintiff side against Indiana A, who was also 4-0. "We routinely hit this team at ORCS, and they've always been trouble for us." Senior Adam Korn said. Korn had personally played IU at the 2015 Louisville ORCS, where Miami B had barely squeaked out two ballots in a sloppy round. The Hoosiers new coach, Adam Farr of Bellarmine University, made Indiana's threat even larger (Farr's Bellarmine team had kept Miami A out of Nationals at that 2015 ORCS tournament). 

What followed was a close match, littered with deep objection battles that brought the team close to All-Loss. Indiana's Senior Dean Olsen capitalized on the close round, beating Junior Dani Kunkel on cross examination. Miami's bench would return fire on their remaining two crosses, with Seniors Ryan Rugani and Imokhai Okolo winning their crosses on opposite ballots. The dust took a while to settle, but when it did, Miami A had split the round: +5 -11. "Going -11 is tough, but you can't win them all" Junior Austin Worrell said. "Sometimes judges don't like our style, maybe that is what happened here."

Make or break: round four of the cornshucker

Indiana and Miami both held records of 5-1, so the fourth round would determine the tournament champion. For Miami, they would play Loyola Chicago, and the Hoosiers would have to take on Wheaton College. 

Loyola's witness core gave Miami everything they had. The crosses were heated, and dragged on into the round. "This really tipped us off to a strategic change." senior Henry Leaman said "If [Loyola's] witnesses fight smaller points, and consistently chime in, then we can consolidate our answers, and further differentiate ourselves." Miami's witnesses Leaman, Okolo, and Cin all tried to keep their cool despite feverish cross-examinations. Leaman was even voir dired, much to the surprise of his directing attorney, Austin Worrell. "Haven't seen that yet," he murmured as opposing council began their questioning. Miami would hold their own by a large margin, winning both ballots +21 +4.

The return

Sitting at 7-1, Miami A walked into closing ceremonies hoping that the Wheaton and Indiana round had been close. If Indiana had swept, the two schools would have been tied, and the Redhawks would have lost the tiebreaker on point differential. Thankfully, Wheaton college was determined to keep Indiana in check: IU split the round +2 -1.  With that, Miami was the only team with seven wins, and they took First Place! Senior Henry Leaman earned an award on an amazing weekend: he earned 17/20 ranks, and beat his crossing attorneys by five points. Junior Austin Worrell also snapped his streak, getting an Outstanding Attorney award with a perfect twenty ranks. "Austin's my directing attorney," Henry reminded us afterwards "so I guess they must have liked both of us!"

After faring the long drive home, Miami A would rest for the winter. They have a large expedition to mount in January: NYU's Downtown invitational, hosted in downtown Manhattan. Historically, Miami has never done well at the Downtown. Their best program finish was fifth place, a feat only accomplished a few years ago. "This year will be different" Senior Maria O'Keeffe told us "We won't let anything get the better of us. And that includes the snow!"

Miami A wins the Cornshucker! Left to right: Austin Worrell, Henry Leaman, Maria O'Keeffe, Dani Kunkel, Ryan Rugani, Allie Cin, Imokhai Okolo, Adam Korn.


The A Team

Record: 7-1 | CS: 21 | OCS: N/A | PD: +57 | Team #: 1102

Coaches: Neal Schuett, Jaime Glinka

Competitors: Austin Worrell, Adam Korn, Imokhai Okolo, Dani Kunkel, Katie O'Keeffe, Henry Leaman, Allie Cin, Ryan Rugani

Outstanding Attorneys:

Austin Worrell (∆, 20 ranks)

Outstanding Witnesses:

Henry Leaman (∆, 17 ranks)


Henry Leaman