The Cornell University Mock Trial Association’s A Team placed 10th out of 24 teams in their division at the 2016 CUMTA’s National Championship Tournament Sunday at Furman University in South Carolina.
This win marks the first time Cornell has landed the national trophy in the past eight years, according to Robert Puzio ’17, public relations chair of the Mock Trial Association.
Cait O’Neill ’16, captain of Cornell’s B Team, received an All-American Award — an honor reserved for the top 10 attorneys in their division.
“I was so excited — I never thought I’d even have the opportunity to compete at nationals let alone win an All American Attorney Award there,” she said.
O’Neill stressed the importance of teamwork in the contest, saying “you don’t win this award alone.”
Laura Bach ’16, president of the Cornell Mock Trial Association, explained that the CUMTA releases a special case every year for the National Championship Tournament. She said the team started preparing for the tournament when the tournament’s case was released on March 20.
At the national level, the difference between teams is marginal, according to Bach.
“You don’t see just one team with a very clear, strong command of the courtroom,” Bach said. “In these rounds, teams are all evenly matched.”
Bach called the A Team’s final round against George Washington University the team’s “hardest round” but said the group performed well.
“I had a new member competing with me and a couple of sophomore witnesses and they were all phenomenal,” she said. “It’s fun — as a senior — to do well, but it’s a lot more fun to see people that you have been training go in and have a phenomenal round.”
Bach also praised the underclassmen who participated in the tournament.
“Our B Team was almost all freshman and it’s amazing to have so many freshman seeing such high level of competition,” she said.
Amanda Rabago ’16 said she enjoyed the B Team’s second round against UCLA most because “they were our toughest competitor.”
“Going against a program as good as them challenges us and pushes us to do our best,” Rabago said.
After four years on the team, O’Neill reflected on her time with CUMTA and shared her aspirations for the team.
“When you travel so much and win and lose together, these people really do become your family, so it’s a tough goodbye,” O’Neill said. “I have the most faith in the future of this team, I truly believe we are one of the best in the country, and as long as they continue to receive the financial support that is necessary to participate and do well in this competitive activity I expect them to be at the national competition every year.”