Mock Trial’s fresh start leads team to fifth

After last year’s first place victory at the State Competition, the Ames High Varsity Mock Trial Team had quite the standard to live up to in front of their opponents. Out of more than 130 Iowa high schools teams, 32 regional winners competed at state in Des Moines March 25 and 26. Unfortunately, Robins Mock Trial from Cedar Rapids took the championship trophy home this year, while Ames scored an (arguably) satisfactory fifth place. “We did pretty well, considering that this year most of our members had never done [mock trial] before, so we basically had to start from scratch,” senior Michael Masteller said. “We should’ve done better, though.” Mock Trial is a competitive simulation of a legal trial, similar to debate. Participants are either witnesses – characters such as elitist professors or cockney policemen who provide evidence and testimony – or attorneys – who direct witnesses and try to disrupt the other side’s arguments through objections and cross-examination. In these, a witness is forced to answer incriminating questions from opposing lawyers. “The most challenging part of being a witness is the cross-examination because it isn’t rehearsed, so I tried to improvise as best as I could not to look bad,” said Masteller, whose character was a private investigator for the defense. Even with only four returning members, the team’s performance did little damage to Ames High’s high-ranking reputation. In order to go on to the Final Four, a great accomplishment in itself, a team must be undefeated in the first three cases (rounds). In their second case, Ames High lost by one point (of more than two-hundred) to Urbandale Mock Trial, amidst allegations of judicial incompetence. “It was disappointing not to get to the final round because we ’d get to compete in the Iowa Supreme Court, but at the same time I’m happy that everyone performed as well as they did,” said senior Katie Orazem, who has participated in Mock Trial since middle school. “The fact that we managed to get fifth with so many new people showed how resilient the team of Ames High is, which makes me proud,” she said.