NU Mock Trial team prepares for National Championships


Source: Yash Dhuri

Northwestern University Mock Trial. The team will send both its A and B teams to the Mock Trial National Championship Tournament this weekend.

Jonah Dylan, Campus Editor

At the end of the 2017 season, Northwestern University Mock Trial was one win away from reaching National Championships. But a close loss ended the team’s season prematurely.

“After that it was just devastating, we all just came back and were so upset and that kind of sat with us for a couple of months,” NUMT vice president Sarah Walther said.

This season, NUMT will send two teams to the Mock Trial National Championship Tournament this weekend in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Both its A team and B team qualified, something NUMT president Joy Holden said she was very happy about.

“A real story is also with our B team. They’re almost entirely freshmen who are on the team that qualified to nationals, which is a huge deal,” the SESP senior said. “Our A team last year that was three seniors, two juniors and a sophomore didn’t get to nationals. It’s very, very hard to be one of the top teams in the nation out of 700.”

To qualify for nationals, both teams had to advance past two qualifying rounds. In the final qualifying round — the Opening Round Championship Series — the A team went a perfect 8-0, including wins over rivals University of Chicago and Wheaton College, Holden said.

Both teams are part of the 48-team championship field, which is divided into a St. Paul division and a Minneapolis division. Holden said many of the top teams, like Yale University and University of Virginia, are in the same division, while NU’s A team is in the other one, which could benefit it.

Weinberg freshman Mara Kelly, the only freshman on the A team, said she competed as part of her high school’s mock trial team and knew she wanted to continue it in college. She said she’s looking forward to competing at Nationals for the first time.

“It’s definitely really exciting,” she said. “It’s really cool to be able to go to this competition, especially as a freshman and be competing with all these high caliber teams. It’s just cool to be able to be a part of this whole experience so early.”

NU is one of seven schools sending two teams to nationals. Sean van Dril, captain of the B team, said his goal is to beat the other B teams at the tournament, many of which come from Ivy League schools. Van Dril, a McCormick senior, said his team is primarily made up of freshmen.

Walther, a Medill junior, said the team had two slogans throughout its season: “we’re not underdogs” and “it’s not a comeback, it’s a takeover.” Going into a weekend where they will face their toughest competition yet, she said she’s excited to see how the team responds.

“We’ve always been a team that performs better when we’re up against really excellent competitors,” she said. “It pushes us to be better, just having that challenge, and so I’m excited to see how we do against all these teams that are the top teams in the country.”

This story was updated to clarify that Yale University’s A team and University of Virginia are in a different division than Northwestern’s A team. NU’s A team will compete in the same division as Yale’s B team and Harvard.

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