UMBC Mock Trial concludes strong fall season

The UMBC Mock Trial Program concluded their most competitive fall season in program history this past weekend with a strong performance at the Yale Invitational. Both UMBC Mock Trial Teams – the “A” and “B” teams – won team and individual awards at multiple tournaments over the last several weeks.

22519090_1753312138064843_8204268358132920148_nOn October 14 & 15, 2017, two UMBC teams traveled to Fordham University in the Bronx, NY, for the Fordham University Sapientia et Doctrina IX, one of the earliest invitational tournaments in the country. UMBC’s teams competed unstacked at Fordham, as UMBC Black and UMBC Gold, with returning members and new members competing side by side to build team camaraderie and help new members develop and learn college mock trial. At Fordham, UMBC’s Gold team posted a 7-1 record and tied for first place with New York University, earning a second place trophy by virtue of a strength of schedule tiebreaker. Sophomore recruitment chair Ethan Hudson earned an Outstanding Attorney award as well.

23316531_1772378049491585_6085852846369018408_nJust two weekends later, on October 28 & 29, 2017, a newly stacked UMBC A and UMBC B headed south, as UMBC A made the trek down to Durham for the Duke University Tobacco Road Invitational, and UMBC B competed in Williamsburg at the College of William & Mary Colonial Classic. UMBC A posted a 4-4 record at Duke, and senior Vice-President Summer Akhtar won an Outstanding Attorney award. UMBC B left Williamsburg with a 5-6-1 record – solid results for two teams that had formed less than 10 days before each tournament and faced stiff competition at these elite-level tournaments.

Two weekends after Duke and William & Mary, on November 11 & 12, 2017, UMBC A and B reunited to travel together to the inaugural Rutgers University Scarlet Knight Mock Trial Invitational. Both teams had strong weekends, earning Honorable Mention recognition with 5-3 records. Additionally, B team attorney and freshman Sydney Gaskins earned an Outstanding Attorney award with a perfect 20 ranks – only the second attorney in the history of UMBC Mock Trial to win an award with perfect ballot ranks.

24831194_1802058079856915_6250445673777427591_oFinally, UMBC A and B finished the fall season on December 2 & 3, 2017 at the Yale Mock Trial Invitational in New Haven, Connecticut. Universally recognized in the mock trial community as one of the strongest invitational tournaments in the country, the Yale Invitational has an A and B division. UMBC A competed in the A division alongside 23 other teams who earned bids to the 2017 National Championship Tournament last season, and UMBC B competed in the B division with 25 other teams who advanced beyond Regionals in 2017. In the A division, UMBC’s A team finished in 4th place with a record of 6-2, after sweeping or splitting ballots with some of the top mock trial programs in the country. Both teams had strong performances at Yale in the face of challenging competition.

The fall season has concluded for UMBC Mock Trial, with four team awards and three individual awards at some of the best fall tournaments nationwide. With the fall season ended, both teams will now turn their focus to spring. UMBC A and B will be in action before the spring semester begins at UMBC, on January 20 & 21, 2018, at the Georgetown University Hilltop Invitational Tournament, and January 27 & 28, 2018 at the Cornell University Big Red Invitational Classic. From there, it’s barely a month before UMBC Mock Trial co-hosts the Stevenson, MD Regional Tournament on February 24 & 25, 2018, where both UMBC A and B will be pushing for bids to ORCS for the fourth season in a row.

UMBC Mock Trial concludes historically successful season

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UMBC’s A Team in LA

After the most successful season in program history, UMBC Mock Trial ended the competitive year in Los Angeles, California, where the top 48 teams in the country gathered for the National Championship Tournament. UMBC Mock Trial earned its place in that field with a bid out of the Delaware Opening Round Championship Series, and ten members of UMBC’s A team traveled to LA to participate in this elite competition. Attorneys Dylan Elliott, Zuhair Riaz, Brandon James, Summer Akhtar, Kayla Smith, and Sambhav Dhawan, and witnesses Lily Felber, Alex Ezigbo, Kaitlyn Kauffman, and Jonathan Ruiz, along with head coach Ben Garmoe and assistant coach Travis Bell, spent four days in LA scrimmaging and competing with case materials that were released less than four weeks before the tournament.

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Brandon James (L) Alex Ezigbo (R)

Before the tournament began, the team spent an entire day scrimmaging with Northern Illinois University, and also scrimmaged the University of Illinois before round 1. Once the tournament began, UMBC Mock Trial had spirited rounds against the University of Richmond and Pennsylvania State University, and earned ballot splits with American University and Rhodes College. In addition to earning the first Nationals ballots in program history, UMBC Mock Trial added its first ever all Americans, as Brandon James was named an All-American Attorney and Alex Ezigbo was named an All-American Witness. The team also was named the first runner-up for the Spirit of AMTA Award, which is given to the team who best exemplifies the values of collegiality and fair play. It was a very successful conclusion to a remarkable year.

After returning from Los Angeles, the whole program came together to start a new tradition that will continue into the future: the end of season banquet and senior recognition. Seniors Dylan Elliott, Zuhair Riaz, Brandon James, Kayla Smith and Zachary Garmoe received their AMTA graduation cords in appreciation of their dedication and hard work over the past several seasons. These five graduating seniors were a part of the most successful years in UMBC Mock Trial history, winning a collective 23 individual awards over their time with the program. Dylan Elliott will be attending the University of Maryland School of Law in the fall, while Kayla Smith will head to Brooklyn Law School and Brandon James will attend the University of Baltimore School of Law.

The program is now working to prepare for its seventh competitive season. Newly elected President Jaedon Huie, Vice-President Summer Akhtar, Secretary Kaitlyn Kauffman, Treasurer Alex Ezigbo, and Recruitment Chair Ethan Hudson are hard at work planning the 2017-18 competition schedule and auditions. The 2017-18 case packet will be released around August 15th, and UMBC Mock Trial will be ready to start all over again!

UMBC Mock Trial advances to National Championship Tournament

For the first time in the history of the program, UMBC Mock Trial has earned a bid to the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) National Championship Tournament! UMBC’s A Team finished 5-3 at the Wilmington, Delaware Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) on March 25-26, 2017, earning one of only six bids to the National Championship Tournament. That tournament will be held on April 21-23, 2017, at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, California.

DSC_2997UMBC’s A team earned ballot sweeps of Princeton University and the University of Delaware, along with a ballot split with the University of Pennsylvania, on their way to a 5-3 record and a Nationals bid. Only 48 teams in the country out of 650+ registered teams earn a bid to the National tournament, representing the top 7% of intercollegiate Mock Trial teams nationwide. UMBC’s A Team was led by senior captains Dylan Rogers Elliott, Zuhair Riaz, Brandon James, and Kayla Smith. Those four seniors have earned 14 individual awards through their careers with UMBC Mock Trial, portraying both witnesses and attorneys.

UMBC’s B team also competed at ORCS this past weekend, earning a record of 4-4 and narrowly missing out on a second Nationals bid for the program. The B team was led by returning captains Shoba Kadavil, Jaedon Huie, and Sam Dhawan, and earned ballot splits with Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Delaware.

UMBC Mock Trial advances to Opening Round Championship Series

For the third season in a row, UMBC Mock Trial has advanced to the Opening Round Championship Series! Teams advance to the second round of American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) playoffs, also known as ORCS, through a series of “bids” earned at Regional tournaments across the nation. Less than one-third of teams nationwide advance to the Championship level of competition.

On February 18 & 19, both UMBC teams were in action at the Baltimore Regional, hosted at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Both teams finished with a record of 5-3, and both teams will be advancing to ORCS! UMBC Mock Trial is one of only two programs in the state of Maryland to advance to ORCS for three consecutive seasons.

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UMBC’s B Team earned their first ever bid to ORCS with a record of 5-3, including a sweep of Washington Adventist and ballot splits with Rutgers A, Maryland B and Bucknell A.
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UMBC’s A Team also earned a record of 5-3, with ballot sweeps of Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth, but narrowly missed an ORCS bid due to strength of schedule. UMBC A accepted an “open bid” to ORCS soon after the competition ended!

UMBC’s A and B Teams will compete at ORCS on March 25th & 26, 2017, in Wilmington, Delaware, at the Widener University Delaware School of Law. Both teams will be competing for one of 48 spots in the National Championship Tournament.

UMBC Mock Trial readies for Regionals

The past two weekend, UMBC’s A and B teams were on the road for local competitions to finish the 2016-17 invitational calendar. As usual, UMBC’s teams came home from those tournaments with team recognition and numerous individual awards.

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Witness Kayla Smith (L) and Attorney Summer Akhtar (R) with their individual awards.

On January 21 and 22, 2017, UMBC’s A and B teams traveled a few miles up the road to Johns Hopkins University for their inaugural Blue Jay Invitational. UMBC’s A team earned 4th place at the invitational, with a record of 5.5 wins. Additionally, A team attorney Summer Akhtar won an Outstanding Attorney award (her first of many), and A team witness Kayla Smith won her fourth Outstanding Witness award of the 16-17 season.

The following weekend, UMBC’s two teams headed opposite directions on I-95. UMBC’s A team traveled south to Washington D.C. for the Georgetown University Hilltop Invitational, one of the strongest invitational tournaments in the country. Despite stiff competition from elite teams, UMBC’s A team finished with 5 wins at Hilltop, narrowly missing out on a team award. Additionally, A team attorney Brandon James won an Outstanding Attorney Award, and witness Lily Felber won an Outstanding Witness award.

UMBC’s B team traveled to Stevenson University for the 2017 Charm City Classic Mock Trial Invitational. This is the second year that Stevenson and UMBC have co-hosted the Charm City Classic, and UMBC’s B team made sure it was the second year UMBC came home with serious hardware. The B team finished in 4th place at Charm City with 5 wins. Additionally, attorney Ethan Hudson won an Outstanding Attorney award, and witnesses Evan Avila and Nihir Nanavaty won Outstanding Witness awards.

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UMBC’s B team with their 4th place award and individual awards.

With these tournaments in the rear view mirror, the focus turns squarely to Regionals. In less than three weeks, UMBC’s A team will go for their third consecutive bid to the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS), while B team will be looking for their first. Both teams will be competing at the Baltimore Regional, which is held at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

UMBC Mock Trial finishes successful fall season

The UMBC Mock Trial program recently concluded our most successful fall invitational season in team history. The team attended four tournaments, placing in three of them and earning individual honors in all four.

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On October 15 & 16, 2016, UMBC’s A team traveled to Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA for their annual Market Street Invitational. The A team finished in 4th place with a record of 6-2. Additionally, President Dylan Rogers Elliott won an Outstanding Attorney Award, and Kayla Smith won an Outstanding Witness Award.
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The following weekend, on October 22 & 23, 2016, UMBC’s B team competed at Elizabethtown College’s annual Blue Jay Invitational. The B team finished in 3rd place with a record of 6-2. Additionally, Sam Dhawan won an Outstanding Attorney Award (with a perfect 20 ranks), Jaedon Huie won an Outstanding Attorney Award, and newcomer Evan Avila won an Outstanding Witness Award.
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On October 29 & 30, 2016, the A team was back in action at the Colonial Classic, hosted by the College of William & Mary. Veteran witness Kayla Smith won an Outstanding Witness Award with a perfect 20 ranks, the only perfect ranked witness at the entire tournament.
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Finally, on November 5 & 6, 2016, both the A and B teams returned to Philidelphia for the annual Hooter Invitational, hosted by Temple University. UMBC’s A team finished in 5th place at the tournament with a record of 5-2-1. Vice-President Zuhair Riaz won an Outstanding Attorney Award, and witnesses Kayla Smith and Kaitlin Kaufmann won Outstanding Witness Awards.
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UMBC’s B team had a strong showing at the Hooter Invitational, finishing with a record of 4-4.

Grit and Greatness

img_8881UMBC’s Mock Trial program has been through a lot in a few short years. And while there have been teaching moments and triumphs along the way, above all else our program has exemplified the best things about being a Retriever: grit and greatness.

This photo of our trophy case is a perfect time capsule of the short but exciting history of our program. In the early 2000s, Dr. Jeffrey Davis started the first iteration of UMBC Mock Trial. Those teams competed in AMTA-competitions until 2007, when the program entered a period of hiatus. In 2011, the team returned with an entirely new set of students and coaches. Dr. Davis continued to serve as the team’s faculty sponsor, and during the 2011-12 season, UMBC Mock Trial rejoined the AMTA framework of competitive mock trial. Our first three seasons were formative years, as we built support on campus, cultivated new members to lead the program, and established relationships with invitational tournaments around the region.

From there, it was about growth. As nearly everyone from the first few years graduated or moved on from the team, our newer members worked their way up the leadership ladder. On a campus full of nerds (yes, that part of UMBC’s reputation is 100% accurate), we saw an opening to find talented students on campus who wanted to work harder and compete more. That effort – one born of breaking into buildings during winter break to practice and getting up at 5am in sub-freezing weather to drive to Philadelphia for the third weekend in a row – culminated in the program’s first Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) bid in 2015, snagging a bid out of the Baltimore regional.

There are a lot of programs out there who go to ORCS and Nationals every season, and we intend to become one of those programs very soon. But even as our trophy case fills up and our program expands and reaches new heights, we’ll never forget hearing our name called for that first bid. For members who had been through challenging seasons, and for coaches and alumni who were there since the beginning, it was validation for countless hours of hard work. Our diversity of thought and experience, combined with an ever-growing willingness to work hard every day to improve, has brought success at a faster rate than many of us thought was possible.

Grit and greatness. Come be a part of UMBC Mock Trial, and that’s what you’ll find.