The Hillsdale College mock trial team traveled to South Bend, Ind. last weekend to compete in the American Mock Trial Association’s regional tournament at the University of Notre Dame.
The team won three of its match-ups, but lost five, some by a very close margin, and did not advance to the national tournament. The team struggled with the difficult schedule it was given.
“We had the highest combined strength score at the competition, meaning that we had the hardest schedule of any team there,” said sophomore Evan Gage, who gave closing arguments at the trial.
Freshman Philip Hammersley agreed.
“The competition was very tough. We faced some really good teams. There was no room for error [because] all the teams were top-notch.”
The team started hot, winning against the University of Chicago and performing well against Loyola University. But then it came up against Northwood University, the top-ranked team that went on to win 8 – 0.
“The margin by which we lost to [Northwood] was incredibly small. We did very well,” Gage said.
Though they did not move on to regionals, the team members were pleased with their performance.
“We were always on the brink of winning, but we could never quite get there,” freshman Katie Kinell said. “I’m really proud of everyone, though. Each person put a lot of effort in.”
Gage echoed these sentiments.
“Regardless of the fact that we didn’t qualify, we had people who did a fantastic job in certain parts of the trial,” he said. “Some of the new members performed to the best of their ability.”
Now that this season is over, the team is looking to next year with high hopes.
“We knew that this year would be a building year,” Gage said. “Instead of having an A team with more experienced people and a B team with new members, we split up all the sophomores to work with all of the freshmen. Now we have a huge group of students who are well-qualified. At the competition, we ended up seeing the foundation of a national team. University of Chicago, Northwood, Notre Dame — we’ll take ’em down. I have no doubt.”
Freshman Sam Ryskamp agreed.
“This is only our second year, and we could hang with some good teams,” he said. “Next year, we’ll have an opportunity to do some big things and make some noise.”