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Mock Trial teams excel at regional tournament

February 17, 2023

Nine Northwood University students have qualified to compete at an American Mock Trial Association Opening Round Championship Series tournament in March.

Two Northwood University Mock Trial teams competed at a regional American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) tournament at Michigan State University, Feb. 10-12. The Northwood teams are among 700 mock trial teams registered with the AMTA.

“At this point in the season, every team at a regional tournament has invested a great deal of time preparing for this past weekend’s first elimination tournaments,” explained Northwood University Mock Trial Program Director DeLois Leapheart. “Each team was hoping to earn a chance to compete in March at AMTA’s Opening Round Championship Series tournaments. Each team NU faced at this past weekend’s regional tournament was very competitive and collegial. Students from every school NU faced displayed excellent advocacy skills.”

One of Northwood’s teams qualified to advance to one of the Opening Round Championship Series tournaments. That team faced teams from Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State University, Xavier and Central Michigan University.

This team is one of only three to qualify to move on after this past weekend’s tournament in Lansing. The other teams that qualified were from Case Western University and Michigan State University.

The students on the Northwood winning team included: 

Connor Bachteal — Saint Joseph

Lukas Baker — Midland

Jaleigh Beckert — Westerville, Ohio

Bankaly Camara — Ann Arbor

Christopher Escalante — Clarkston

Riley Hayer — Clare

DeLorean Ishmon — Eastpointe

Teagan O’Bryan — Lapeer

J. Austin Wolfe — Cincinnati, Ohio

Northwood’s other team won its trials against Central Michigan University and a different Michigan State University team, but lost a trial against Case Western Reserve University. The team split its ballots in a round against Hillsdale University.

Students on this Northwood team included:

Caleb Banko — Byron

Gabriel Cerda — Westland

Anwar Jackson — Bridgeport

Zyla Kadriu — Skenderaj, Kosovo

Miah Keller — Mount Clemens

Max Lay — Linden

Julian Lee — Macomb

Pietro Vitale — Woodhaven

Brendan VanSumeren — Essexville

Gnanasai (Sai) Vepa — Canton

“This NU team is on the Opening Round Championship Series waitlist as a result of their winning record,” Leapheart noted. “After all the February tournaments conclude, AMTA will select which of the waitlisted teams will be invited to move on.”

In addition to the team awards, Northwood was runner-up for the civility and professionalism award called the Spirit of AMTA Award. That award is based on the post-trial evaluation by the teams they competed against. 

In addition to the team awards, several of our students won individual awards. Winning Outstanding Regional Witness awards were Gabriel Cerda, Anwar Jackson and DeLorean Ishmon. Winning an Outstanding Regional Attorney Award was Lukas Baker. 

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