By Rachel Pasker
After two rounds of competition, schools were starting to count the St. Ambrose mock trial team out, but they were not giving up. The team went 1-3 on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Mock Trial Regional competition at Coe College in Cedar Rapids. Following a pep talk by Coach Henry Marquard and Captain Caleb Copley, the team came back on Sunday and went 4-0 against the University of Notre Dame and the University of Iowa to earn an 8th place ranking out of 22 schools.
“A lot of people were stunned that we had pulled it off,” Marquard said. “We went against traditionally strong teams in Cornell College, Loras College, Notre Dame and Iowa. [The round against Notre Dame] was the hardest fought mock trial round I’ve ever seen as a coach.”
Copley echoed Marquard’s excitement. “What we did Sunday was something I couldn’t have dreamed of. It was a great weekend to say the absolute least,” he said.
The 5-3 record was the best an SAU team has earned at the Regional tournament in the last 10 years according to Marquard. Individual awards are given at every tournament and two members of the SAU team came home with some hardware. Copley earned an outstanding attorney award while Co-captain Tyler Waugh received an outstanding witness award.
To top it all off, the team earned the Spirit of AMTA (American Mock Trial Association) award for the tournament as well. This award is voted on my teams that are competing and given to the team that demonstrates “honesty, civility and fair play” throughout the weekend. The SAU group tied with Notre Dame for this award which Marquard is extremely proud of considering the level of competition at regionals.
“I’m very proud of that [the award], as a Catholic school those are things that we want to display. We strive to have that good representation of the University,” Marquard said.
Marquard credits a number of factors for the team’s successful season, especially the strong leadership and experience. Three of the members returned this season with at least two years of experience. The resources from the University that allowed the team to go to six competitions throughout the year and gain the experience necessary to compete strongly at regionals according to Marquard.
“Having a full strength 10-member-team made a big difference,” Marquard said. “It let us specialize and gave us a lot of flexibility [to have multiple members playing one role.]”
“This season has been defined by the hard work and dedication that my teammates and I have put in from day one,” Copley agreed.
This season was the best that an SAU mock trial team has had as far as Marquard remembers. The previous record was a 4-4 season with a team made up of all seniors. The team came home with winning records in five of the seven tournaments they participated in with one tied record. Their overall record for the season was 25-15-4 which included a second place finish at the Quad City Invitational and a third place finish at Quincy College.
“Honorable mention in a tournament like this is a huge accomplishment, and coming out of a tournament like this with a winning record is an accomplishment too,” Marquard said. He was proud of the way the team came back on the Sunday of regionals because they had a lot of character and were flawless despite the situation they were in.
The team did not immediately qualify for the national competition because only the top seven teams are let in from each regional competition. However, there are 15 spots available for an open bid to any of the opening rounds across the country. The SAU team received word on Feb. 24 that they earned an at large bid to the first round of the national competition in Waukegan, Ill., as a result of their 5-3 record at the regional level. The team will participate in the tournament on March 14-16 against what Marquard notes are some of the best teams in the country. These teams include the University of Illinois, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Chicago and numerous others. Only the top 48 of over 650 teams from all of the opening rounds across the country will move on to the national competition in April.