Miami's "A" team placed fifth at the Mock Trial National Championship. Back row, left to right: Zowoi Malakpa, coach Neal Schuett, Brandon Patterson, Alex Block, Brad Ouambo, Allie Pickerell and coach Dan Haughey; front row: Lauren Yates, Claire Meikle, Deborah O'Neal, Jazmine Kee and Katie O'Keeffe (photo by Susan Meikle).
Two teams from the Miami University James Lewis Family Mock Trial program placed fifth and seventh at the 2014 American Mock Trial Association National Championship Tournament held in Orlando, Fla., April 11-13.
Senior Alex Block, a member of Miami's "A" team that placed fifth in the nation, won his second All-American Attorney Award (making this his eighth Outstanding Attorney award this year).
Junior Monika Mudd and sophomore Elias Demeropolis, members of Miami's "B" team that placed seventh, won All-American Witness Awards.
Forty-eight teams competed in the national tournament after starting the season with a field of more than 650 teams from more than 350 colleges and universities (and more than 5,500 students) — making collegiate mock trial the largest academic competition in the country.
The 48-team national championship field is divided into two 24-team fields with the two first-place teams playing for the national championship.
Miami's program was one of only four that qualified the maximum number of two teams to the national tournament, along with Yale University, Rhodes College and defending national champion Florida State.
Mock Trial All Americans: (left to right) Alex Block, attorney award, Monika Mudd, witness award and Elias Demeropolis, witness award (photo by Henry Leaman).
Miami and Rhodes College are the only schools to place teams in each of the two division’s top ten finishers.
The two divisional winners, playing for the national title, were Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles; UCLA won the 2014 National Championship.
The "A" team, with eight seniors, is coached by Dan Haughey, managing director of Miami's mock trial program, Butler County Area III judge, attorney and visiting assistant professor of business legal studies; and Neal Schuett, attorney and visiting assistant professor of business legal studies.
"Miami Mock Trial has an incredible coaching staff, and Dan Haughey and Neal Schuett have a special ability to identify our talents, encourage us and push us to achieve more than we believed was possible," said Claire Meikle, co-captain with Block of the "A" team.
"I've learned to work hard, not just for an award or individual recognition but to do it for my team, for my program and for my school."
Senior members of the team and their post-graduation plans are:
Alex Block, diplomacy and global politics major from Evanston Ill; he will be working for Dick Durbin, U.S. senator from Illinois, in Washington, D.C.;
Zoebedeh (Zowoi) Malakpa, psychology major and ethics and management double minor from Toledo; after graduating next December, he will pursue graduate studies in psychology;
Claire Meikle, biology major from Oxford; she will be entering an M.D./Ph.D program at the University of Toledo College of Medicine;
Deborah O’Neal, political science major and history and business legal studies double minor from Cleveland; she will be working for Teach for America in Memphis for two years before going on to law school;
Brad Ouambo, political science major and business legal studies minor from Strongsville; he will be attending law school at Case Western Reserve University;
Brandon Patterson, political science and strategic communication double major from Shaker Heights, he will be working for two years for Teach for America in Chicago;
Allie Pickerill, marketing and political science double major and Chinese minor from Hamilton; she will graduate with a combined bachelor's and master's degree in political science and enter law school;
Lauren Yates, strategic communications major and business legal studies minor from Broadview Heights; she will be joining a marketing research firm in Cincinnati.
Non-competing member David Payne from Louisville, Ky., will graduate with a combined bachelor's and master's degree in accountancy and enter law school at Vanderbilt University.
Other members of the "A" team are first-year students Jazmine Kee, journalism major from Canton, and Katie O’Keeffe, a diplomacy and global politics major and business and legal studies minor from Gibsonia, Penn., both in witness roles.
Miami's "B" team placed seventh in the Mock Trial National Tournament. Left to right: Henry Leaman, Monika Mudd, Najeeb Ahmed, Sam Hobbs, Matthew Meeks, Ben Sandlin, Christina Romine, John Spear, Reeti Pal and Elias Demeropolis.
The "B" team is coached by attorney Lawrence Hilton and by Melissa Schuett, third-year student at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Members are:
Juniors Matthew Meeks, zoology major and global health minor from Massillon; Monika Mudd, English literature and history double major and German minor from Dayton; and Ben Sandlin, chemistry major and business legal studies minor from Cincinnati;
Sophomores Najeeb Ahmed, finance major from Perrysburg; Elias Demeropolis, philosophy and political science double major from Hamilton; Christina Romine, international studies major from Grove City; and John Spear, international business management and chemistry double major from Chardon;
First-year Samantha (Sam) Hobbs, French major and marketing minor from Marysville; and non-competing members and first-year students Henry Leaman, history major from St. Charles, Ill., and Reeti Pal, zoology major from West Chester.
The coaching staff also includes business legal studies professor and attorney Laura Powell, attorney Jaime Glinka (Miami '10) and Dan Herron, professor of business legal studies and founder and director of Miami's mock trial program.
The James Lewis Family Mock Trial Program is housed in the Farmer School of Business and coached by the business legal faculty in the department of finance. The program is open to all undergraduate students, with a try-out process in early September each year.
For more information, go to mockhawk.com.
Miami, among the top three percent of collegiate mock trial programs in the country, has qualified teams to the Mock Trial National Tournament for 21 consecutive years, longer than any other program in the country except for Rhodes College.
"My involvement in Miami University Mock Trial has been a highlight of my college experience," Meikle said. "I speak for my whole team when I say I have made lasting friendships, developed leadership and communication skills, and learned innumerable life lessons - and above all, I have been privileged to share wonderful moments with wonderful people. As a pre-med biology major I'm sometimes asked why I participate in mock trial. My response is simply that I love it."