Following spring break, the Drake Undergraduate Mock Trial team 1237 will participate in the Opening Round Champion Series (ORCS) in an effort to qualify for the national mock trial competition.
Last month, the team finished in fifth place at the regional competition in Topeka, Kan. The team’s high finish among 30 other teams, as well as receiving three individual awards, demonstrated the team’s hard work, which led to success.Senior co-captain Daniel Van Sant was the top ranking individual in the tournament, receiving the All-Regional Witness award. The other two individual awards were presented to sophomores Annastasia Bergman and Megan Sherburne, members of team 1238, for “Outstanding Attorney” and “Outstanding Witness.”
“I worked really hard to do well at that one since there was a chance it could have been my last,” Van Sant said. “I was pretty proud because we definitely put the practice in every week and I’ve been working hard to get my parts where I want them.”
Team 1237 will now advance to the ORCS, which will be held March 25-27 in St. Paul, Minn. This competition is the final step in order to qualify for the National Championship, which takes place in Des Moines.
Drake has been known to compete well in mock trial and has made several appearances at the national competition. This year’s team is hoping to meet the expectations set for them by prior teams.
“Other schools definitely look at us. There’s a little bit of an expectation to do well,” Van Sant said. “If we qualify at St. Paul, our competition will be right here at our own Drake home turf.”
To prepare for the ORCS competition, the mock trial team has continued to practice with its nine to 10 hours of practice a week, and is primarily focused on having more scrimmage based practices and having each person to improve individually.
“We’re excited for another tournament, and with that opportunity comes a lot of work but a lot of fun,” senior co-captain Kyair Butts said. “We knew we had to buckle down and that there was a lot of work to be done.”
One of the greatest difficulties the team is experiencing is keeping the case interesting. This year’s case,involving a parent suing the fictional HappyLand Toy Co. for allegedly being responsible for his son’s death by poisoning, was given to the team prior to the school year, around late July or early August.
After practicing the case for months, it can be a challenge to keep it exciting both for the team as well as for the judges.
“We want to keep it interesting and keep the fire lit,” Van Sant said. “We have to keep it fresh and go to competitions bringing something new and exciting.”
The team has put in the hours and hard work and is now looking to reap the benefits of that hard work in St. Paul.
“We want to keep improving and getting better,” Butts said. “We want to learn more about ourselves and our team and we want tangible evidence of our improvement, which would be the overall goal of getting to nationals.”
The team will compete March 25-27 and if it qualifies, the national competition will be April 15-17.