UHS Mock Trial Team Wins County Finals

By CHAITANYA KOTRA
Staff Writer

The Mock Trial team celebrates their county competition win over Valencia High School via a Zoom call.

The UHS Mock Trial team placed first in Orange County, after defeating Valencia High School in the county finals round.
This is the second time that the UHS Mock Trial team has won the county finals, the first time being in 2017.
The county championship took place on Thursday, February 25, against Valencia High School. The team competed in eight rounds from February 2 to 25 and were undefeated by the end of the county season. The competition was held by the Orange County Constitutional Rights Foundation virtually on Zoom in adherence with coronavirus safety guidelines.
Senior Cheyenne Hwang, the president of the Mock Trial team, described the excitement surrounding the championship round.
“The match was equally nerve-wracking and exciting. The other team, Valencia High School, was also impressive, but ultimately our team’s cohesion and overall strength won us the championships,” Hwang said. “Uni’s team hasn’t won [county] since I was a freshman 3 years ago, so it was nice to win back the title in my final year.”
Sophomore Ryan Alavi, playing a witness on the team, agreed that it was an exciting competition, and recalled the many hours of practice that the team as a whole had invested in the months before.
“Winning was the best feeling ever because all our hard work paid off,” Alavi said. “Our hours of practice all came together and it was amazing.”
Junior Scott Burke, one of the prosecution attorneys, described the gratification that came from winning the final round against Valencia High School.
“The match was a close one; we faced Valencia who had beaten several hard-hitting teams to make it to the championship round,” Burke said. “With victory came the satisfaction that the many hours spent practicing had paid off.”
Junior Simona Forster expressed how much she enjoyed being part of the team, describing their growth and success.
“I have been on the team since my freshman year, and it’s been amazing to see how our team has learned and grown so much over the past few years,” Forster said. “Lots of practice and feedback from our awesome attorney coaches and alumni coaches was definitely the key to our victory. We have been practicing every week since the summer.”
On the days they were competing, the team spent hours on Zoom preparing, competing, and reflecting on the trial.
“Trial days were long— on Tuesdays and Thursdays in February we got on a pre-competition call at 3:30, trial started at 5, and then we were on a debrief call until 9 PM some nights,” Forster said. “I felt that all of the time and energy we put into Mock Trial showed in our presentation and propelled us to victory.”
The amount of time and effort is something that the team collectively believes was a major contributor to their victory at the championship. As restrictive as this year’s circumstances may have been, the new virtual format of the Mock Trial team’s practices and meetings allowed for them to meet more frequently and consistently, especially with the postponement of the competition by several months.
“With our competition happening in February, rather than its usual time in the fall, our team had much more time to practice than we would during a normal season,” Burke said. “Additionally, with the implementation of Zoom, we were able to schedule meetings with team members and coaches more frequently and conveniently, adding to our ability to prepare as a team. I am sure the extra time we put into practicing this year contributed to our county victory.”
Sophomore Karina Pandurangadu, a prosecution attorney on the team, emphasized the importance of their confidence as a team, and how it ultimately contributed to their victory along with their many hours of practice.
“The match was, above all, fun. There were some questionable calls but we were confident throughout the trial,” Pandurangadu said. “The victory felt like all the hard work we had put in since the summer had finally paid off. We’ve put in hours of work every week since July, the practice on both the team level and individual level helped us prepare for unpredictable situations and allowed us to win major arguments.”
Hwang also believed that the overall support and cooperation amongst the team played a major part in their victory.
“What won us our victory was all of the practice and preparation we had been putting in all year, in addition to the collaborative and supportive environment we had on the team,” Hwang said.
As the county champions, the Uni Mock Trial team represented Orange County at the California Mock Trial State Championship, held on Zoom from March 18-21, but did not place in the top eight teams.