Ten College of Wooster Students Advance to Moot Court National Tournament

Qualifiers will compete at California State University at Long Beach Jan. 15-16

08 January, 2016 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Ten students from The College of Wooster will compete at the American Collegiate Moot Court Association National Tournament next week at California State University, Long Beach, after turning in strong performances during regional competition last semester.

Coral Ciupak and Dawson Honey, Jack Johanning and Rachel Sullivan, Madeleine O’Neill and Alexander Downs, Marie Sheehan and Benjamin Taylor, and Emma Woods and Shelley Grostefon comprise the five two-person teams from Wooster that made the cut.

“The American Collegiate Moot Court Association continues to grow and become more competitive,” said Mark Weaver, professor of political science and head coach of Wooster’s Moot Court team. “In order to stay competitive, participating schools must now send teams to a rapidly growing number of invitational tournaments that are held before the regional tournaments in November.

“This year, we sent teams to three invitational tournaments in October (the University of Central Florida, Cleveland Marshall College of Law, and Ohio Wesleyan University),” added Weaver. “We also participated in three different regionals to lessen the likelihood that our teams would knock each other out in the elimination rounds.”

Unfortunately, several Wooster teams ran into each other in the critical qualifying round at each of the regional tournaments again this year. “We sent two of our experienced teams —Hannah Buzolits and Austin Maffei, and Jacob Hailperin-Lausch and Michaela McNaughton — to the Upper Midwest Regional Tournament at the University of Iowa College of Law in Iowa City, Nov. 6-7,” said Weaver. “Buzolits and Maffei defeated Hailperin-Lausch and McNaughton, but then in the next round, they were defeated by the team that went on to win the Upper Midwest Championship, so neither Wooster team qualified for nationals, although Buzolits finished ninth in the individual orator’s category.”

The following weekend (Nov. 13-14), five Wooster teams competed at the Great Lakes Regional Tournament in Saginaw, Mich. There, the team of O’Neill and Downs successfully defended its 2014 Great Lakes Championship by again finishing in first place. A second Wooster team, consisting of Woods and Grostefon, finished in fourth, and also qualified for the national tournament.

“In general, the Wooster teams, including the three that did not qualify for nationals (Jordan Griffith and Cameron Steckbeck, Cecilia Azar and Regina McCullough, and Bradley Van Tyne and Maha Rashid) did very well at the Great Lakes Tournament,” said Weaver. In fact, three Wooster students won individual orator awards: Griffith (third), Steckbeck (fourth), and Downs (sixth).

One week later (Nov. 20-21), Wooster hosted the Midwest Tournament, which is sponsored each year by the Wayne County Bar Association and the Pre-Law Advising Program. This year, more than 30 teams from 10 different school competed, and seven of them, including three from Wooster, qualified for nationals: Sheehan and Taylor, who finished second; Ciupak and Honey, who placed fifth; and Sullivan and Johanning, who tied for sixth.

The other Wooster teams that competed in the Midwest regional consisted of Abagail Westbrook and Adam McDonough, Daniel Lynch and Mona Vaddiraju, and John Martin, who partnered with a student from Eastern Michigan University to form what is known as a “hybrid team.” In the individual orator rankings, Taylor finished second, Johanning was fourth, Sullivan placed fifth, Sheehan took seventh, and Ciupak came in 10th.

The five Wooster teams that qualified for nationals have returned to campus and are now preparing for the national tournament, which will be held Jan. 15-16.