NIU Mock Trial Team advances in national tournament for sixth consecutive year

The NIU undergraduate mock trial teams competed in the American Mock Trial Association’s (AMTA) Evanston Regional Tournament, hosted by Northwestern University on Friday, Feb. 7 through Sunday, Feb. 9.

NIU’s A team finished with a record of 5-1-2 and earned a bid to the next round of the national tournament – the Opening Round Championships (ORCS). 

Top row (L-R) Coach Mitch Pickerill, Connor McGraw, Nick Matousek, Alexandria Herbst, Sanjeev Viswan, Gabrielle Sims, Hannah Westfallen, Paola Ascencio, Wilfredo Najarro, Assistant Coach Kaitlyn Harper Bottom row (L-R): Kameron Brown, Jose Cantu, Chelsie Verstraete, Shkelcim Zeciri, Andrea Alcantar, Rayna Ryan, Raquel Olivencia, Emily Winter, Adil Erradi

The A team also won the Spirit of AMTA Award, and Sanjeev Viswan won an Outstanding Attorney Award. The NIU B team finished with a record of 4-4. This is the sixth year in a row for an NIU team to advance from the regional round to ORCS. The top six teams from each of eight ORCS will advance to the National Championship Tournament (NTC) in April, which will be hosted by Loyola University Chicago at the Daly Center. 

In August 2019, more than 700 teams across the country received the same case problem from AMTA and work all year long for the chance to compete and advance in the national tournament. Throughout this academic year, the NIU teams have competed in invitational tournaments in preparation for regionals, including tournaments hosted by Illinois State University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Iowa, University of Arizona, Indiana University and University of Florida.

“This has been a long season,” said co-captain Wilfredo Najarro. “We worked hard with the goal of earning a bid to ORCS, and it paid off. Now the goal is to get to NCT!”

Throughout the year, NIU had numerous other award winners. In addition to Viswan’s award earlier this month, Hannah Westfallen, Rayna Ryan, Paola Ascencio, and Shkelcim Zeciri have all won individual attorney or witness awards at invitational tournaments this year. 

For the third year, NIU is honored to co-host ORCS at the Kane County Judicial Center on Friday, March 6 through Sunday, March 8. The tournament will host 24 of the top teams in the country, including teams from California, Oregon and Washington. The tournament organizers are currently seeking volunteers with legal experience to help judge and score at the tournament. If you or someone you know are interested in volunteering as a judge or would like more information, please contact the coach of NIU Mock Trial, Professor Mitch Pickerill (pick@niu.edu). 

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