Mock Trial Among the Best in Nation

The University Mock Trial Team will head to the 2012 Intercollegiate Mock Trial National Championship as one of the top 48 schools in the nation. The championship will take place April 13-15 at Hamline University in Minneapolis, MN.

Members and coaches watched a live webcast in Marillac Hall on April 2, as the American Mock Trial Association announced which schools would be placed in either the Hon. Edward Toussaint, Jr. Division or the Faith L. O’Reilly Division. St. John’s was placed in the O’Reilly division.

This is the team’s first trip to the national championship since 2000, when it placed second in the country.

In addition to making the final 48 in the country, sophomore Ashley Denton was selected as one of the top ten witnesses in the country.

The University earned its spot in the national championship by placing fourth in the opening round of the national finals in Washington D.C. The team’s only loss in the tournament came against West Virginia, which went on to win first place.

Bernard Helldorfer, head coach of the mock trial team, said coming off a loss presents a challenge for the team going into the national championship.

“The hard part is coming out of the first level of nationals to become one of the final 48 teams in the country,” he said. “It’s going to be a very intense experience because this is for everything.”

Helldorfer said the presence of strong colleges and universities such as Harvard, Columbia and Duke would provide a competive and exciting atmosphere for the tournament.

“There are a pretty good number of teams that are traditionally strong teams,” he said. “There is going to be a great electricity in the air because everybody is so intense.”

The mock trial team has performed well throughout their season. In their pre-season invitational, the team won seven of their trials and lost one. In the Eastern Regional’s, St. John’s placed seventh out of 26 teams.

Junior Gary Dunn said the competitions and countless hours of weekly practice tested the durability of the team.

“It has been a real endurance test,” he said. “From day one of tryouts all the way till now, whether from coaches, or just going up against other people we oppose.”

Denton talked about how mock trial benefitted her not only professionally, but personally as well.

“Mock trial has made me feel fearless,” she said. “There is nothing that can make you feel more confident being on the mock trial with our coaches.”

Helldorfer said despite being ranked 45 out of 48, he had faith in his team to perform well at the tournament.

“Knowing this team, knowing these individual students, knowing what they’re capable of doing, I will say unequivocally they are as good as any team in this national championship,” he said.