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The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

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City Mock Trial Takes Home Runner-Up Trophy at State Competition

The+Junior+Team+poses+with+their+second+place+trophy+in+the+Iowa+Supreme+Court+Chambers.+Photo+courtesy+of+Liz+Matel
The Junior Team poses with their second place trophy in the Iowa Supreme Court Chambers. Photo courtesy of Liz Matel

On Friday, March 29, members of four City mock trial teams sat in a large room with hundreds of other high school students from across the state. The teams were waiting with baited breath for the announcement of the top 12 mock trial teams in the state. Every City team had goals starting at the beginning of the season relating to their placement in the state competition. Some wanted to qualify for State, and others wanted to win it all. For City’s Junior team, their goal was to make it to the top four in the state. Making the top four would mean the team would have to win all 3 trials of the regular state competition and then spend another day in Des Moines participating in the semifinals of the competition.

“I was definitely happy to be in the [top four]. Our team’s goal going into this was to make the semifinals, to make the top four and so getting into that i was just like oh thank god,” Junior Team member Olivia Vande Berg ‘25 said. “But then when our coach came out and was like ‘guys we’re doing defense’ I kind of was like locked like ‘you know what? I really like our defense case and I think we have a chance at this now.’ So it went from like relief because we achieved our goal to ok now how far can we go with this.”

Not only did the Junior Team make the semifinals, but they also made it to the final round where they delivered the last portrayal of the defense side of this year’s case. The final round took place in the Iowa Supreme Court Chambers and was tried in front of a panel of judges.

“I think probably my favorite moment of the whole tournament was I think just hearing that we made the finals,” Vande Berg said. “Our semifinal round was neck and neck. It was so close. The Ankeny team that we went against was so good and just to hear that we had made the finals was just like ‘holy crap we’re in this.’”

Vande Berg was the closer for the Junior Team’s defense side of the case which means she had to be listening to every minute detail of the three hour trial and deliver closing arguments at the very end.

“Over the course of the trial you have to be both incredibly locked into the minute details of what is going on in the moment especially as a closer where you have to be locked in the entire case,” Vande Berg said, “but it’s also like when you’re just sitting there waiting for the judges to come in, you have to let your mind go blank because it’s the only time you’re going to be able to [do that] over the next three hours. So the moment when the judges walk in and when they enter it felt like ‘ok I’m here we made it this far.’”

In addition to the Junior Team’s second place finish, City Mock Trial qualified four of five teams for the state competition with the Sophomore Team placing 6th and the Senior Team taking 8th.

“I thought it was really exciting. I thought that we put a lot of work into [the season] but I was surprised to see that we actually placed and got sixth which is a really good placement,” Sophomore Team member Amal Eltayib ‘26 said.

Additionally, 5 individual City Mock Trial members were recipients of All-State honors for their performances as attorneys or witnesses. Members who received All-State honors for their performances as attorneys were Olivia Vande Berg ‘25 and Reyna Roach ‘24, and members who received All-State honors for their performances as witnesses were Zaylex Ballantyne ‘25, Tully Campion ‘24, and Jillian Conlon ‘26.

With the mock trial season coming to a close, participants are already looking forward to next year.

“This year, State was my goal so it was a little less stressful because I just wanted to get as high as possible and I knew that either way I would be proud of my team and just happy that we got here,” Elaine Burer ‘26, a member of the Sophomore Team, said. “For me, [the goal next year is to] definitely place higher [and] go as high as we can. [Being in the] semifinals [or] top four would probably be the goal.”

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Esther Puderbaugh
Esther Puderbaugh, Executive Editor and Website Editor
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