Hillsdale College’s Mock Trial team won their first tour­nament of the year at Michigan State Uni­versity. Andrew Simpson | Courtesy

The Hillsdale College Mock Trial team swept their com­petitors with grace and class at their first tour­nament of the season.

Two HCMT teams com­peted at Michigan State University’s Sixth Annual Red Cedar Invi­ta­tional, facing giants like Penn­syl­vania State Uni­versity and Case Western Uni­versity. Team 1126, lead by Coach Jon Church ’17 and junior Captain Mason Aberle, won the tour­nament with a maximum score of eight ballots, winning each of the two judges’ ballots per round. Team 1127, lead by Coach Lindsey Church ’17 and sophomore mock trial team captain Sophia Klom­parens fin­ished the tour­nament winning four of the eight pos­sible ballots.

Jon Church said this team is “one of the most tal­ented groups” he has seen.

Team 1126 beat Michigan State University’s B team and Case Western Reserve’s B team in the first and second rounds, respec­tively. They took both ballots from each round, estab­lishing a solid 4 – 0 lead in the tour­nament.

Jon Church and Aberle com­mended the new members, including freshmen brothers Mattis and Jean-Luc Bel­loncle and sophomore Emma Eisenman.

“The Bel­loncle twins are really some­thing, they’re really sharp kids.” Aberle said. “And overall, it’s a really tal­ented group of kids.”

Eisenman per­formed as a witness during the trials. In the third round of the tour­nament, when team 1126 com­peted against Penn State, she played the com­pelling role as the wife of a mur­dered man.

“She gets on the stand against Penn State, and as she’s talking about her dead husband, she lit­erally starts crying,” Aberle said. “Full tears and every­thing. It was insane.”

Hillsdale took both ballots in the round against Penn State, raising their score to 6 – 0.

Since joining the team this semester, Eisenman said she has picked up on the close-knit nature of Hillsdale’s Mock Trial program.

“It’s a team sport. It’s the people that make it,” Eisenman said. “There are so many inside jokes and the people are so good to each other. It’s very much a family.”

Eisenman said the team’s com­posure during the tour­nament made a good impression on her.

“When other teams were up, talking, and messing around before a round, we were all reading over things and preparing,” Eisenman said. “We were calm and cool and col­lected. And we were very classy.”

HCMT team 1126 beat Case Western Reserve’s A team to win the tour­nament, winning both ballots in the round and sweeping their com­pe­tition.

Team 1127 took both ballots against Ohio Northern Uni­versity in the first round but lost to Penn State’s team in the second round.

Lindsey Church said sopho­mores Conner Daniels and Jacob Hooper, who per­formed as attorneys, did well given the strength of their oppo­nents.

“It was their first time, and it was intim­i­dating,” Lindsey Church said. “But they held their ground against quality oppo­sition.”

Team 1127 beat the Uni­versity of Pitts­burgh in the third round but fell to Case Western in the final rounding, ending their tour­nament 4 – 4.

Jon Church said he was pleased with the team’s first per­for­mance.

“A lot of times it takes a long time to develop the skills of a good com­petitor, but I was impressed by freshman,” Church said. “I was sur­prised by the amount of com­posure we had from new people.”

According to Aberle, the mock trial program is a tes­tament to the college’s ethos and the lead­ership of the coaches.

“They don’t sugar coat things or let their kids off the hook, they are driving them to be better than they oth­erwise would be,” Aberle said. “Cor­recting with a gentle hand while still cor­recting is a hard thing to master, and they’ve got it down pat.”

Hillsdale’s Mock Trial team will compete at the Case Western Spartan Throwdown October 27 – 28.