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Mock Trial finishes No. 2 in New York

November 13, 2023

A Northwood University Mock Trial Team finished No. 2 at the University of Rochester’s fall invitational tournament this weekend in Rochester, New York.

“This NU team consisted of both students who have previously competed in American Mock Trial Association tournaments and students who have not,” stated Dr. DeLois Leapheart, Northwood’s Mock Trial coach. “By God’s grace, and plenty of hard work, they won their trial against the Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Toronto, and University of Connecticut. In their trial against Michigan State University, NU won a scoring judge’s ballot and MSU won the other judge’s ballot.”

The NU students who finished the tournament with seven wins and one loss are: James Austin Wolfe, Cincinnati, Ohio; Gnanasai (Sai) Vepa, Canton; Riley Hayer, Clare; Gabrielle Cerda, Westland; Grace Livingston, Carleton; Laina Tomei, Shelby Township; Aaron Harvey, Saginaw; Caleb Banko, Byron; and Dylan Markovic, Holland, Michigan.

Three returning competitors led a second NU Mock Trial Team. The remainder of the team was made up of students who had not previously competed in a scoring role at an American Mock Trial Association tournament. This team won their trials against SUNY Geneseo and La Salle University but lost against Case Western Reserve University and Ohio University.

This team consisted of: Miah Keller, Mount Clemens; Julian Lee, Macomb; Jaleigh Beckert, Westerville, Ohio; Jenna Houserman, Houghton Lake; Bella Smylie, Clare; Emily Nosky, West Chicago, Illinois; Parker Maples, Howell; Chris Escalante, Clarkston; Evan Baker, Jenison; Barrett Tefft, Davison; Conrad Waldie, Vassar; Ty Pichan, Gaylord; and Kurtis Depner, Columbus, Ohio. 

In addition to the team awards, Vepa and Tefft won Outstanding Attorney Awards. Cerda won a Witness Award with a perfect ranking score, which means every judge scored him as the top witness in every round on the prosecution side of the case.

Earlier this season, during an Oct. 29 award ceremony at the Michigan State University tournament, Wolfe won an Outstanding Attorney Award, and Connor Bachteal, of St. Joseph, and Cerda won Outstanding Witness Awards.

At the first tournament of the season, Brendan VanSumeren, of Essexville, won an Outstanding Attorney Award, and Bachteal and Cerda won Outstanding Witness Awards on Oct. 15 at the University of Illinois tournament.

Coach Leapheart thanks Assistant Coaches Stephen Dunn and Jacob Walters.

“Without their tireless efforts, our students would not have earned so many accolades,” she noted.

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