Mock Trial wants to make a statement

At St. Ambrose University in Davenport this weekend, a Grinnell team will take the court solely focused on victory.  Expect the team to dive right in, emotions to be running high, some tense game-time decisions and, basically, a life-or-death situation, at least, depending on the case. However, it’s not basketball in the hot-seat, or swimming on trial, but the Grinnell Mock Trial team going for the win.
The Mock Trial season is broken into two parts—the invitational, non-competitive fall season and the regular spring season, in which the team attempts to qualify for nationals. Last fall the team went winless, but co-captain Sam Stragand ’10 explains that these losses are hardly cause for concern.
“The fact that we have to deal with defeat before we get to victory is pretty nice,” Stragand said. “Some teams get big heads pretty quickly, because they win things and that’s where we come in and get them eventually.”
That confidence comes from a wealth of recent achievement. For at least the past five years, Grinnell’s Mock Trial team was extremely successful, progressing from the regional competition over a pool of 24 competitors to the super regional competition, and gaining their seat at the national competition, in which only 48 teams of 600 from around the nation compete. Co-captain Julia Reese ’10 says that the fall season was simply the result of some pre-season strategizing.
“We started preparing for this in September,” Reese said. “At the beginning we were trying to figure out what basically our strategy would be, and now we’re trying to refine that strategy after we’ve seen the approaches of others teams that we’ve gone up against.”
With the pressure mounting as the first big test draws near, team members try to keep themselves in peak condition, even if that means raising the bar by demanding longer and more grueling hours of practice than ever before.
“We normally meet once a week, but before big tournaments, we practiced…every day for a week and a half,” Reese said. “Practices are anywhere from two to three to four hours.”
Relying on a strong offense and defense, Mock Trial leans the depth in its players as its main advantage. Reese and Strangand have both been competing in mock trial for the past eight years, while the other co-captain Adam Lange ’11 contributes his nearly 10 years of experience to this well-seasoned team.
“Iowa has the largest junior high mock program in the nation, and my coach was involved with mock trial since the beginning about 25 years ago,” said Lange, an Iowan native well-adjusted to the ups and downs of murder, felonies and misdemeanors.
Along with the full bench of highly seasoned players, newcomers to Mock Trial bring a nimble mind and fresh bodies, allowing both the A and B team to scrimmage off of one another in order to reach their full potential.
“We always have two teams and they end up being both very successful,” Stragand said. “A lot of times they end up qualifying out of Regionals.”
As for team goals for the next competition, Stragand believes his team capable of shutting out the competition and making another bid for the national tournament in April.
“I’m confident, as far as being captain, at delivering at the highest level,” Stragand said. “I specifically am looking forward to playing a couple of teams that I think we have a good chance of beating that are nationally renowned.”
Depending upon the outcome of this weekend’s match, the team hopes to advance to the Opening Round Championship, or Super Regionals, in St. Paul, Minn. the first weekend of Spring Break.