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The Mock Trial team received a bid for the national com­pe­tition. Megan Williams | Collegian

Senior mock trial team captain Jean-Luc Bel­loncle won an All-American Attorney award at the National Cham­pi­onship Tour­nament last weekend, where the Hillsdale College Mock Trial team com­peted for the first time. 

The award is given to the top 10 com­petitors at the tour­nament, placing Bel­loncle in the top 20 attorneys in the country, Coach Jonathan Church said. 

The HCMT team com­peted in a division with 24 other teams. After four rounds, the team fin­ished with a record of four wins, six losses, and two ties. 

Bel­loncle said no one was dis­ap­pointed with their per­for­mance con­sid­ering it was the team’s first time com­peting at the tournament. 

With only three weeks to prepare a new case, Bel­loncle said the process leading up to nationals was extremely stressful, but the strength of com­pe­tition made it worth it. 

“Once we arrived at nationals, it was just a great time with excitement and high energy,” Bel­loncle said. “It was the first chance we’ve really had to compete against the best, and only the best, so that was fun.”

Church said an impressive aspect of this accom­plishment is that most of the com­petitors were under­classmen. The team con­sisted of two freshmen, four sopho­mores, one junior, and two seniors. 

The team enjoyed watching and com­peting against the top pro­grams because of the quality of cases pre­sented, Bel­loncle said.

 “It was def­i­nitely inter­esting to see how inno­v­ative you can be with the case problems that they give you,” Bel­loncle said. “We had a lot of really good rounds against really good teams.” 

HCMT has worked toward the goal of com­peting in nationals since the program started. Bel­loncle said he was honored to be part of the team which made program history. 

“It was nice that it hap­pened right before I grad­uated, and at the end of the tour­nament, it was bit­ter­sweet,” Bel­loncle said. “A good note to end on, but it is also an ending.”

The team qual­ified for the national tour­nament at the Opening Round Cham­pi­onship Series on March 20. Church explained it was the program’s fifth time trying to earn a bid to nationals in the last round. 

“It was a big moment for the program to finally break that mental block or curse or whatever you want to call it,” Church said. 

Sophomore Konrad Ver­baarschott said the stu­dents weren’t alone in making this oppor­tunity possible. 

“We would not be where we are without the backing of Dr. Kiledal behind the scenes and then Coach and his won­derful wife, Lindsey,” Ver­baarschott said. 

Ver­baarschott said the people com­peting were hand­picked by the coaches, and it is the char­acter of the indi­viduals that made the team successful. 

 

“I firmly believe that our praying before rounds, the sleepless nights of Coach and Lindsey, and the faith­fulness of all of our com­petitors are the things that by the grace of God got us as far as we did,” Ver­baarschott said.