Both team 1126 and team 1127 qualified for The American Mock Trial Association’s Opening Round Championship Series at the Ypsilanti, Michigan Regional Tournament at Eastern Michigan University on Feb. 17. The last time two Hillsdale teams qualified for the ORCS — the highest round a Hillsdale Mock Trial team has reached — was their 2016 – 17 season.
To qualify for the championship series, teams needed to place in the top seven of the 21 teams competing at the regional tournament.
But in the first round, both teams dropped both ballots.
“Round one, we hit Michigan A, which is ranked number five in the nation,” said sophomore Sophie Klomparens, who plays an attorney for team 1126. “We had to win everything else from that point on to have a chance of winning.”
Junior Andrew Simpson, who plays an attorney for team 1127, talked about how the loss impacted team performance.
“It really motivated the team. Everyone was in peak performance,” Simpson said. “They were probably the best rounds of the season.”
Klomparens said team 1126 had to treat every team as if it were a reigning champion.
Mock trial tournament staff don’t reveal the ballots for the last round of competition, letting the results only be seen at awards. Tournament staff announced the awards starting with first place, creating suspense for teams like Hillsdale’s that were on the edge of qualifying.
“We knew we had won the ballots from rounds two and three,” Klomparens said. “But we were worried about the judges in round four.”
Team 1126 ended up taking fifth place with six ballots while team 1127 took seventh place and the last bid to the next round with 5.5 ballots. Sophomore Mason Aberle won an attorney award with 18/20 points.
“It got down to the wire,” Simpson said. “There was the stress of not knowing. If we had lost, our season would have been over.”
Now each team waits for case changes to come out on Feb. 24, so it can prepare for the Opening Round Championship Series in earnest.
“Everyone has a lot of raw talent, so we’re going to focus on refining it,” Simpson said.
With their comeback performances, both teams can look forward to at least one more tournament.
“I was super proud of how people pulled through,” Klomparens said. “We’ve been working so hard on this case for months and this tournament was it.”