The Knights Cap Incredible Season with Trip to State
By: Scoop Gilbertson, Esq.
MARCH 12, 2019
DULUTH, MN – Chesterton Academy spent a dramatic three days in Duluth competing at the Minnesota State Mock Trial Championships. The Knights finished a stellar 2019 campaign by going 1-2 at state, and 5-2 overall for the season. This earned the team an overall ranking of number 9 in Minnesota.
The squad from Apple Valley High School (a team that beat Chesterton by only one point at the Hamline University Freeze Fest Invitational in December) beat Breck School to claim the state championship and move on to the national tournament, which is being held in Athens, Georgia this year.
“Whatever our results at the state tournament,” said Coach Campbell, “this season was a terrific success for the team. The effort that these kids put forth should make their parents, teachers, classmates and the administration very proud. We are all so grateful for the encouragement and support that we received from everyone.”
Reflecting on the season, junior attorney Sidney Meyer said, “I’m really proud of our team for all the hard work we’ve put in this year. I think that going to state was a great learning experience for us that will help us do even better next year.” Sophomore, and star timekeeper, Lara Campbell added, “You bond so much with a team over six months of practices, lunches, free periods, and late nights. In the end, we learned that hard work really does win.”
Chesterton Academy earned its first-ever trip to the state championships by beating Nova Academy, a perennial powerhouse program, for the Region 7 championship. But mock trial is about much more than just winning, and junior attorney and team co-captain Mary Kracht spoke for many, saying, “I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this team. The experience has taught me so much about our country’s judicial system, logic, debate, public speaking, leadership, writing, persuading, memorizing, and offering all of my efforts, successes, and failures for the greater glory of God! Without the team, I would not have formed the friendships with my teammates that I have today.”
The State of Minnesota is divided into 16 regions and includes over 130 high school mock trial teams. The Minneapolis/St. Paul area comprises 10 of those regions and, for competitive reasons, these 10 are subdivided into two “super regions” (Hennepin and Ramsey). All teams compete in four rounds (note: this year, weather forced the cancelation of round 4) of “sub-regional” competition in January and early February. The top teams the sub-regional competitions earn the right to participate in one round of “regional” competition in mid-February. Each winner at regionals round is crowned champion of one of the 16 regions and earns a place at the annual state competition.
Winning its first-ever regional championship was a team effort. As junior witness and co-captain Grace Justice put it: “Mock trial taught me so much about how to form logical arguments and conclusions. It also taught me how to use my own skills to better the team.”
The state tournament consists of three rounds during which every team competes, and a “championship” round featuring only the top two teams. Each round is scored by either two or three judges, with each judge submitting a ballot identifying the team that won as well as the number of points that each team scored. The team that wins the most ballots (or, if there is a split, the most total points) wins that round.
“Once you get to the state tournament, every team is a threat, and you’ve got to be at the top of your game to have a chance to get to the championship round,” said Coach Campbell.
At state, the Knights’ first round opponent was a very strong Eastview High School, a public school in Apple Valley with an enrollment of 2,207. Eastview competed in the Ramsey county “super” regional with Chesterton and was in second place (behind Nova) after the sub-regional competitions. Eastview claimed the Region 9 championships after the regional round. Both teams argued well, and although it appeared to be very close, Eastview took the match 251-239.
The Knights next faced off against Region 14 champs Eden Prairie High School (enrollment 3,000). Eden Prairie started weakly but picked up steam as the match wore on. Following the round, Mr. Campbell assessed the match as a win for Chesterton. Unfortunately, he was not permitted to submit a ballot on behalf of the Knights, and Eden Prairie won 239-238.
In the final round, Chesterton went against Region 1 champion Sartell High School (enrollment 1,000). While Sartell did a fine job, it was immediately clear that the Knights had a firm grip on the Sabers. “Our kids were fresh for their third-round match, and they just forgot to be nervous and went for it. Overall, that was probably their best performance of the season,” said Mr. Campbell, adding, “I’m extremely proud that they finished their season on such a strong note.” Chesterton won 221-198.
Traveling with the team were Mr. Nicholas Zinos, coach of the JV mock trial squad, Mrs. Paula Haller, mother and chaperone, and Mrs. Dana Murphy-Meyer, mother and chaperone. These volunteers made the trip both possible, and extremely enjoyable, for the team. In addition, a number of students made the trek to Duluth in support of the squad. The team is very grateful to each of these supporters.
Given the team’s success, one might expect that its members would find themselves fully self-satisfied. Not so. Junior witness Mariajose Gracia, said “When I first signed up, thinking about all the free time I would lose, I immediately regretted it. Now looking at it, the only thing I’d change about the past six months is to work even harder.”
The one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that the season was a tremendous success. “Now our kids know, they know, that they can beat any team in this state,” said Mr. Campbell. “This bodes very well for our future in this arena.” As junior witness Julia Favorite put it: “Our season this year was absolutely phenomenal. Sure, our performance at state wasn't our best, but I know that our experience will only push us further next year!”
Watch. Out. World.
2018-19 Mock Trial Varsity Team
St. Thomas Academy
Nova Classical Academy White
Farmington High School
Nova Classical Academy
Eastview High School
Eden Prairie High School
Sartell High School