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Release: April 17, 2002

EDITORS: Receipt of this release indicates that a student from your readership area was a member of the UI's championship mock trial team.

UI Mock Trial undergraduate team wins collegiate championship

The University of Iowa Mock Trial team has won the 2002 Collegiate Mock Trial tournament, beating a Georgetown University team in the finals. Some 62 other college and university teams competed at the national competition April 5-7 in Des Moines.

UI students Ryan Seelau, Steven Moeller, Travis McGivern, Melissa Singer, Neal Schuett, Laura Schultes, Joshua Jones, and Michaela Meidlinger comprised the national championship team, and each individually earned all-American honors. UI students Kelly Launspach and Joe Unger also received all-American classification, and McGivern also received a distinguished 18-point all-American award at the event.

First-year law student Beau Brindley coached the UI's championship team. "Some mock trial programs have an average budget of approximately $20,000. The UI's program received approximately $1,000. The team's victory is truly a Cinderella story," he says.

Four years ago Brindley says the UI had never qualified for a national competition. At that time, Brindley himself was a competitor and was slowly trying to build a program.

"At our first national, we suffered dismal defeats; however, things improved over the years. Last year, we achieved a fourth place finish in the nation without a coach. The students who won this title are defining what it means to have heart, dedication, and the desire to excel beyond the scope of what anyone believes possible. Through their hard work throughout this season, they have earned something extraordinary," Brindley said.

"The finest institutions in this nation compete very seriously in this competition. Thus, it was a great victory for the state when the national championship trophy came home to its origin for the first time since Drake University won the ninth national in 1992.

Brindley, with the help of assistant coaches and first-year law student Kristofer Lyons and UI senior Greg Vonnahme, guided the UI's two eight-person teams, which took first and second regional honors en route to the field of 32 finals competition. The competition began with 440 teams. The second eight-person team of Sam Schrupp, Sarah Wallace, Emily Olson, Jessica Shook, Melissa Watt, Meghan Maher, Launspach, and Unger placed 16th in the national tournament and received honorable mention designation.

The mock trial competition is an undergraduate competition and is organized and governed by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) and is annually sponsored by the Young Lawyer's Division of the Iowa Bar Association.

The AMTA was started in Des Moines in 1985, by then Drake Law School Dean and AMTA President Richard Calkins and is held in Des Moines each year. A description about the AMTA reads: "The goal of college mock trial is not winning. It is to facilitate the growth of the individual student as a person able to work with and support others, as a knowledgeable citizen acquainted with the legal system, and as a community leader working for the betterment of humanity. These goals are met when the student participates at any level of the program. Thus, our motto is that all are winners in mock trial."


ANKENY: Neal Schuett, senior;
CEDAR RAPIDS: Meghan S. Maher; Ryan Seelau, senior; Samuel Schrupp, freshman;
DAVENPORT: Steven Moeller, junior;
DES MOINES: Kelly Launspach, junior;
DUBUQUE: Sarah Wallace, sophomore;
FORT DODGE: Melissa Singer, junior;
MARION: Melissa L. Watt, freshman;
PELLA: Jessica Shook, sophomore;
ROLFE: Laura Schultes, freshman;
SPENCER: Joseph Unger, senior;


CHICAGO: Joshua Jones, junior;


ADA: Emily Olson, junior;


GRAND ISLAND: Michaela Meidlinger, senior