At its first tournament of the year, Hillsdale College’s mock trial teams placed first and fourth in the Thunderdome Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
Wheaton College hosted 21 colleges for the tournament held in the DuPage County Courthouse in Wheaton, Illinois. Team “$traight Up,” captained by senior Kristiana Mork and junior Honor Perrine, scored a record of 7 – 1, winning first. Team “I’ll Allow It,” captained by senior Jon Church and sophomores Mark Compton and Natalie Taylor, scored a record of 6 – 2, taking fourth.
“It’s especially remarkable, due to the fact that one third of each of those teams is composed of freshmen or new members,” Church said.
While the latest additions contributed to the teams’ overall success, Church, Taylor, Mork, and junior Laurel Nitzel took home four individual awards.
In addition to dedicated upperclassmen, Perrine attributed the teams’ early success to their coach, Neal Brady, and his focus on prioritizing instruction of freshmen during the fall invitational season.
“We work really hard, but we have a lot fun,” freshman Alexander Yun said. “I didn’t do mock trial in high school, so I have a lot to learn, but the upperclassmen have been really supportive in helping me learn my role on the team.”
The teams are now preparing for their next invitational at Michigan State University on Saturday and Sunday. Although this tournament is normally challenging, the teams said they are looking forward to competing again.
“Looking to the future, I feel confident in our ability to achieve similar success throughout the upcoming season,” Perrine said.
Perrine said the competition will provide Hillsdale a better measurement with how close it is to achieving the goal of competing in the spring national competition.
Although the college’s mock trials teams have grown over the past several years, the national tournament has continued to elude them. This year, however, with great freshman and phenomenal returning talent, their sights are set to qualify for the national championship tournament in Los Angeles, California.
“As a program,” Church said, “we are learning how to consistently place in the top six or seven teams at the tournaments we attend because that is what is required to advance.”