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.