Wesleyan Mock Trial Team Takes 8th Place in National Competition

Olivia DrakeApril 25, 20195min
Mock Trial
Wesleyan Mock Trial club competitors gather after their eighth-place finish in their division of a National Championship Tournament.

This year, approximately 740 teams from more than 350 universities across the country competed in tournaments hosted by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). And of those 740 teams, Wesleyan’s Mock Trial Team A placed eighth in the country in the Temple Law Division during the National Championship Tournament on April 7.

The AMTA hosted three rounds of competition for the 5,300 participating college students: Regionals, the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS), and the National Championship. 

Wesleyan’s three teams—A, B, and C—qualified for the ORCS tournament leading up to Nationals. And for the first time in Wesleyan’s history, teams A and B both earned a bid in the National competition.

The Wesleyan Mock Trial Team B, pictured here at Nationals, won a Spirit of AMTA award at ORCS and Nationals. Wesleyan is the only school in the country to win the award at three Mock Trial competitions.

“Wesleyan Mock Trial is one of the country’s best mock trial programs, and our performance improves every year,” said Wesleyan Mock Trial president Drew Kushnir ’22. “Only about six percent of all teams in the country qualify for Nationals, so for Wesleyan to send two teams is an absurdly impressive achievement. It was especially satisfying to compete with the ‘big dogs’ as a small liberal arts school.”

This wasn’t Wesleyan’s first appearance in Mock Trial Nationals. In 2017, the A team finished seventh in their division.

In addition, Wesleyan Mock Trial Teams B and C both won a Spirit of AMTA award (SPAMTA), an award given to the team that best exemplifies the ideals of honesty, civility, and fair play. Kathryn Machanic ’22 and Fitzroy Pablo Wickham ’21 won witness awards at Nationals and were thus named All-Americans.

Based on their performance over the past three years, Wesleyan’s Team A is presently ranked as the 25th best team in the country, as noted in the American Mock Trial Association’s “Power Rankings.” Team B is 65th.

“Mock Trial is an activity in many ways similar to a debate, but we’re under a very specific set of rules, which happen to be similar to courtroom procedures,” Kushnir explained. “We examine and cross-examine witnesses as we try and argue a case.”

The Wesleyan Mock Trial members include Kushnir, Machanic, Wickham, Heather Pincus ’19, Nell Buechler ’20, Lucine Poturyan ’20, Alexandra Prendergast ’20, Jacob Barabas ’21, Nia Eddy-Pina ’21, Nika Litt ’21, Phoebe Nance ’21, Virginia Sciolino’ 21, Jonah Skolnik ’21, Akaash Waghmode ’21, Lincoln Alkind ’22, Sam Brumer ’22, Kathryn Campbell ’22, Elodie Frey ’22, Sam Lao ’22, Jillian Pincus ’22, Will Dempsey ’19, Ethan Addis ’21, Tess Vartanian ’20, Eugene Smith ’20, Josh Ng ’20, and William Mahoney ’21.

Wesleyan's Mock Trial A Team poses with their National-qualifier trophy at the Chestnut Hill Opening Round Championship Series in March 2019. The team is ranked 25th in the country.
Wesleyan’s Mock Trial Team A poses with their National-qualifier trophy at the Chestnut Hill Opening Round Championship Series in March 2019. The team is ranked 25th in the country.

Alumni Nathaniel Warner ’17 and Erica Arensman ’17 helped coach the 2019 team.

“Our members come from all over the world and have many different interests, majors, and career plans,” Kushnir said. “We are an extremely close-knit and hardworking team.”

The American Mock Trial Association was founded in 1985 by Dean Richard Calkins of Drake Law School. AMTA serves as the governing body for intercollegiate mock trial competition. Through engaging in trial simulations in competition with teams from other institutions, students develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, as well as a knowledge of legal practices and procedures. AMTA sponsors regional and national-level competitions, as well as provides interesting and complex case materials for academic use.