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K-State Today

February 20, 2013

A winning case: Mock Trial Team advances to first round of national competition

Submitted by Communications & Marketing

The verdict is in and Kansas State University's varsity Mock Trial Team is moving on to the opening round of the national mock trial championships. The team will compete at the National Mock Trial Tournament Series in March in St. Louis for a chance to advance to the national finals in Washington, D.C.

The team advanced by qualifying at the Great Plains Regional Mock Trial Competition, Feb. 15-17, at Washburn University. Twenty-two teams from 13 schools competed, with the top seven teams moving on to St. Louis.

"The team really earned it," said Bondy Valdovinos-Kaye, a senior in psychology from Topeka and president of the university's Mock Trial Club. Kaye also was a member of the qualifying varsity team.

"On top of school, work and various other commitments, the team still found time to meet for sometimes up to 20 hours a week beginning in August," Valdovinos-Kaye said. "We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the community and the university's the department of communication studies, pre-law program and the College of Arts and Sciences. We will continue this momentous rise as we journey to Washington University in St. Louis for round one of the national tournament. We really earned it."

Two members of the varsity team also earned individual honors at the competition. Ryan Reed, senior in political science and pre-law, Lindsborg, received a top witness award for being one of the best character witnesses at the tournament. Torrey Peterson, junior in political science, St. George, received a top attorney award by among the top 10 attorneys out of nearly 70 competitors.

Mock trial is student competition program where two teams of three attorneys and three witnesses argue an entire case: from opening statement, through direct and cross examination, to closing statements. Two judges award points for each phase of the trial, and the team with the most points wins. Tournaments include four rounds, or trials, over the course of three days, with each trial lasting about four hours.

This is the fourth year the Kansas State University Mock Trial Club has been active. The student organization works closely with the faculty from the communications studies department, including Joe Koehle, an instructor and adviser. The team is coached by Benjamin Long, an Olathe attorney; Britain Stites, a public defender in Junction City; and Nikki Marcotte, Manhattan, a legal secretary. Long and Marcotte are both Kansas State University alumni.

The university's junior varsity Mock Trial Team also competed at the Great Plains event but did not advance. Other schools at the tournament included the University of Kansas, U.S. Air Force Academy, Creighton, Drake, Loyola-Chicago and the University of Colorado.

Along with Valdovinos-Kaye, Peterson and Reed, members of the university's Mock Trial teams include:

From Greater Kansas City: Terrence Ogren, junior in economics, Mission, varsity; Haley Claxton, junior in history, Olathe, varsity; Soni Hamza, senior in women's studies, Overland Park, junior varsity; and Erica Waltman, sophomore in communication studies, Shawnee; junior varsity.

Sarah Haley, sophomore in psychology, Lawrence, junior varsity; Brian Vanorsby, senior in history, Lindsborg, junior varsity; Andrew Faerber, a December 2012 bachelor's graduate in psychology, junior varsity, and Josh Wilson, senior in communication studies, varsity, both from Manhattan; Colin Reynolds, senior in communication studies, Topeka, junior varsity; Brandon Katt, senior in political science, WaKeeney, varsity; and Sam Cox, junior in sociology, Wamego, junior varsity.