Taking it to the judge


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The 2022 Mock Trial team after placing fifth at the Calkins Invitational

by Jenna Prather, News Editor

Simpson College’s Mock Trial team placed fifth overall at the eleventh annual Calkins Invitational at Drake University. The placing is the first in the program’s history and two students received individual awards for Outstanding Attorney and Outstanding Witness, respectively.

At the competition, which took place from Oct. 21-23, Simpson’s fifth-place position was secured with a record of 6–2, besting the other competing schools from around the country.

“We competed against 24 other teams from the Midwest,” Allie Tubbs, senior and undergraduate assistant for mock trial, said. “A lot of these were from Drake or from other local schools, but we competed against Creighton [University] as well. It was a really tough field and it was really exciting to place fifth.”

“They came back really excited and I know that they spent the entire fall getting ready for the event,” Director of Speech and Debate and Mock Trial Spencer Waugh said. “They practiced two days a week and I’m really proud of how hard they worked to get to where they are.”

Alongside Creighton, the team also competed against DePaul University and Hamline University in head-to-head matchups.

The outstanding awards were based on rankings from scoring judges throughout the competition. Nyan Baker and Dylan McKinley each received these honors for their work at the invitational.

“I’ve known Nyan since he was a senior in high school at Knoxville. He came to Simpson with a lot of debate experience and some mock trial experience, so I know that he’s been working towards this for a number of years,” Waugh said. “Dylan had quite a bit of Iowa High School Speech Association experience, so I know that he is quite a talented witness as well. Both of those students brought quite a bit of talent to Simpson and were excited to join our mock trial team. Really pleased that they came away from the Drake invitational with those honors.”

“It was really unexpected, but fun and surprising to get,” McKinley said. “We have a young team this year, so it was an interesting turn out, to say the least. One that we weren’t really expecting, but one we were welcome to have. With not as much preparation time as usual, getting that fifth place and the awards we got as a team was certainly a fun experience to have.”

They currently have 11 students on the team, and only three are returners from last year.

“You like to have at least ten,” Tubbs said. “So, we were really kind of nervous about that, but we had a great freshman class coming in. We did a lot of recruiting efforts at the beginning of the year, and we were lucky to have so many great freshmen join us.”

Following their success, the mock trial is taking a bit of a breather before receiving their case changes in December. This change requires them to rework their case over winter break before coming back to prepare for their regional tournament at the beginning of February.

“We’re kind of continuing to work for the rest of the semester, trying to fine-polish everything that we can.” Tubbs said. “We’ll come back [after winter break], prepare for the big regional tournament, kind of revving up and making sure we can compete the best that we can as a team.”

“We don’t have any tournaments until our regional competition at this point on the schedule,” McKinley said. “But we have a lot of practice times set up ahead to just keep working and only get better from here.”

The location national qualifying tournament hasn’t been released yet, but the team is anxiously awaiting the announcement.

“That’s the trip that always involves some travel,” Waugh said. “Sometimes it’s in Kansas, sometimes it’s in Missouri, I know a couple of times they’ve gotten to travel to Chicago. Usually, they know before winter break, so I bet they’re all very excited to find out where they get to travel.”

“It’s been an exciting week,” Tubbs said. “Our coach, Tyler, just got appointed by Governor Reynolds to be a judge on the appellate court. We’re really proud as a team to be placing for the first time in program history, we’ve put in a lot of time and I think that it’s important that the freshmen especially get all the recognition that they deserve for all the time we’ve put in over fall break. It’s really exciting to be the first mock trial to be placing and we really hope to continue that trend  and do well for the rest of the season.”

Tyler Buller was unable to comment due to his new position, but he spoke to the Simpson College team back in October.

He said, “Placing near the top of the pack is a great achievement, especially for a competitive invitational tournament.  The team trophy and individual awards recognize how this program has grown over the last several years and how our students continue to improve.”