Two Hillsdale Mock Trial teams began spring break by competing in the Opening Round Championship Series, which saw the top 192 teams in the nation competing for only 48 spots in the national championship.
Jonathan Church, lecturer of rhetoric and public address and head coach for the mock trial program, said team 1213 was only two places away from advancing to nationals. Team 1214 also competed in the championship series.
“Team 1213 went 8 – 4 so they won eight of their ballots, lost four, and they missed out on going to nationals by half a ballot,” Church said. “They ended up second on the open bid list, so overall for the year we placed 50th. We didn’t make the top 48 but we were two places away.”
Team 1213’s performance in ORCS this year made Hillsdale College Mock Trial history, Church said.
“In terms of placement on the open bid list, it’s the highest we’ve ever been,” he said.
Senior Sophie Klomparens, captain of team 1213, said she was proud of her teammates’ performance.
“I wouldn’t have asked anyone to do anything differently. It was the best performance I’ve seen from basically everyone on that team. And I’m really proud of how everyone did,” Klomparens said. “As a senior myself, and having freshmen on the team and being able to help them, it definitely felt like passing a torch and showing other people how to do something that now I’m moving on from doing.”
Senior Liesl Ragner won the All-National Witness Award.
“I personally am of the opinion that everyone did really well and was within getting an award,” Ragner said. “I think that we were at the top of our game all weekend. I’m happy to get an award, but everybody did well.”
Ragner said she had a good experience for her final collegiate mock trial tournament.
“It was a good tournament to go out on,” Ragner said. “We had good competition, it was a good experience, all the ORCS changes were fun to work with, and we just had a really good crew of people. Everyone on the team was enthusiastic and working with each other to meet our goals.”
Team 1214 also competed and went 4 – 8. Each tournament has four rounds and each round is judged by a panel of three judges, meaning the team must win at least two ballots to win a round.
Church said this setup was an improvement from previous years, when there were only two judges per round.
“They expanded ORCS, due to the fact that it’s online and they don’t have geographic constraints. So frankly, the judging pool is really good this year, and they got three judges per round,” Church said. “So that makes decisions of who goes to nationals a little bit less random because in a normal tournament if you have a judge who doesn’t like you that can keep you out, whereas here you could get a judge who randomly doesn’t like you and it won’t affect you as much.”
Church said he was proud of team 1214’s 4 – 8 record, especially given the fact that the team was mostly made of freshmen and sophomore competitors.
“They went 1 – 2 in every single round, so they took one ballot and lost two in all four of their rounds, which is cool because it means they got a ballot out of two teams that went to nationals,” Church said. “It means good things about the future. It means we’ve got a really strong freshman, sophomore core coming through.”