LSHS Mock Trial argues its way to national championship

Mock Trial competition verdict Sunday

After winning state in March, Lakeville South High School’s Mock Trial team is in Connecticut this weekend for national competition, a first for any Mock Trial team at the 12-year-old high school.

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Students from the Lakeville South mock trail team celebrate as they win state at the Mock Trial State Tournament on March 3 and 4 in St. Cloud, qualifying them for the national competition this weekend.

“It’s kind of a dream come true just to be going to the nationals,” said Kate Redetzke, the only senior on the team.

In a real courtroom, over 50 Mock Trial top qualifying teams will argue a fictional court case, with some team members acting as lawyers and others playing the part of witnesses.

Their performances are judged by real Supreme Court judges, and teams advance through various rounds until the top two teams compete for the title in the championship round Sunday.

Teams prepare to argue both sides of the case and don’t learn which side they will represent until about a half-hour before their competition starts.

In the state competition, the LSHS Mock Trial team had six months to prepare their arguments, with the nationals, Redetzke said they had six weeks of preparation.

“We really have to be prepared with both sides,” Redetzke said.

Mock Trial coach Ken Williams has led the program since LSHS opened.

He said previous LSHS Mock Trial teams have finished as high as third at state, but this year’s team stood out.

“I’ve got some phenomenal kids,” Williams said. “They are just fantastic.”

He said to get this far, “everything sorta has to click.”

Williams said the students knew the law “really well” and could recite it well.

At state, he said the LSHS team beat Bemidji by two points in the first round, then defeated Nova Classical Academy, which has won the state championship the last two years, by one point, then won over Lakeville North by seven points to take the championship against Maple River in the final round.

“They don’t do points (in the championship) and they don’t tell us, but there were five judges and we got the majority,” Williams said.

He called competing in the nationals “huge.”

“It’s a flurry of activity,” Williams said. “We meet four times a week, but a lot of the work really goes on the kids’ shoulders.”

At nationals, the fictional case they will argue involves the unsolved murder of a 17-year-old girl in 2015.

One of the prime suspects is starting college and as part of his initiation ceremony into a secret society confessed to the murder.

Redetzke said people who write the case are from the Connecticut area, and she said it is loosely based on real cases that have happened there, but not any particular case.

Team members have prepared by writing opening and closing statements, “directs,” questions for their own witnesses, and cross examination questions for the opposing side’s witnesses.

“We spent about a month preparing our material, and now it’s just memorizing it,” Redetzke said.

While teams are technically allowed to use notes in the competition, Redetzke said they are focusing on memorizing them since their performances are being watched and rated by real Supreme Court judges.

Other team members are sophomores Maya Lundell and Haley Renner and juniors Conner Berger, Sam Clifford, Britton Vandenheuval, Caden Jones, Tyler Butts, Caroline Roesner and Patricia English.

“We’re all super excited to be going,” Redetzke said.