Two Cornell Mock Trial teams ranked fourth and ninth place, respectively, out of 48 other teams at the competition at the 2018 National Championship Tournament in Minneapolis from April 19 to 22.
Cornell was one of the only schools to place two teams in the top 10, according to the James Pinchak ’18, mock trial president.
“Placing two teams in the top 10 is huge,” Pinchak said. “99 percent of the schools can only get one team to nationals. But placing both teams in the top of their divisions? Forget about it.”
Nationals is the pinnacle tournament of the year where selected teams from all over the country compete. The American Mock Trial Association hosts the tournament and livestreams the final round where the top two teams of each of the two divisions play each other, Pinchak said.
At nationals, each school participates in four trials, and “the ten teams with the most ballots receive recognition,” said Steven Torres ’19, vice president of mock trial. “Usually you need 6.5 ballots to break into the top 10,” Pinchak said, and Cornell’s teams won eight and seven out of the 12 total possible ballots.
Adding to the success of the team as a whole, Pinchak, Torres, Danny Shokry ’21 and Joshua Sims ’21 achieved the All-American title, meaning they were recognized as some of the best attorneys and witnesses at the championship tournament, according to Torres.
The mock trial team “faced the best of the best” during the tournament, competing against national champions from previous years, like the University of Virginia and Yale.
Overall, Pinchak said, “they were pretty amazing rounds and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to go out as a senior.”
Live-streamed to the nation, the awards ceremony at Hamline University in Minneapolis released the official results. This year, according to Torres, Miami University in Ohio took first place and Yale University second.
Michael Glanzel ’18, a captain and recruitment chair for Mock Trial, said, “the lead-up was definitely intense—we weren’t sure if we were going to even place.”
When Cornell’s teams were announced as fourth and ninth place, pandemonium ensued, said Pinchak.
“There are over 700 teams in the country, so being able to place in the top five is an incredible achievement that very few schools ever accomplish,” Glanzel said. “To me, this achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our teams. It was great to see that the late-night practices, missed social events, and countless hours spent traveling was all worth it in the end,” added Torres.
Mock trial is set apart from other groups because, as required by the American Mock Trial Association, it limits the number of people on each team. “So, we are an incredibly small and tight-knit group,” Glanzel said. “Being able to achieve success with your best friends, who you’ve worked so tirelessly with, is such an incredible experience — and as a senior, it was the best possible way to go out.”
After the ceremony, Torres said that the team walked away with two pretty nice trophies —“truly a profound moment for everyone.” Glanzel added, “everyone at that moment felt an immense amount of pride as competitors, as life-long friends, and most importantly as Cornellians.”