Mock Trial wins county championship, moves on to state competition


(Photo Courtesy of Ethan Chase)

By Fiona Matney

Tamalpais High School’s Mock Trial team won the county championship on Feb. 5 and will be moving on to the state competition. After breaking its 25-year winning streak over Zoom this past year, the team returned victoriously, prevailing with a 33-point margin deciding the victory.

The 2021 competition was the first time in 25 years Tam’s Mock Trial team did not finish first. “It was our first year on Zoom. We lost, and it was really difficult for everyone. But, you know, we came together as a team,” junior and mock trial attorney Jack Knowles said. The competition was held over Zoom again this year. The team faced off against the defending champions, Marin Catholic, in the final trial of the Marin County competition. “It was a tough trial, but we ended up winning by one of the biggest margins in the last couple years,” Knowles said. 

Mock Trial coach Molly Alarcon said that this year, the team had a better idea of how to compete with Zoom being a factor. “A lot of our preparation this year was geared towards optimizing our performances on zoom,” Alacron said. She partially attributes the team’s success this year, along with both hard work and determination, to the team’s ability to perform under unconventional circumstances. Acclimating to things like lighting and backgrounds, that Alacron said “don’t matter to the substance of the trial,” played a role in the team’s eventual victory this year.

Each school’s Mock Trial team is split into a defense and a prosecution side. During the final trial, on two separate Zooms, Tam’s defense had a trial against Marin Catholic’s persecution and vice versa. In the end, Tam came out victorious, 33 points ahead of Marin Catholic. Five Tam students received recognition for outstanding performance during the trial;  senior Natalia Betzler, juniors Yonatan Paz-Priel and Stella Cushing, and sophomores Finn Mallard and Harrison Engel .

Their victory in county will send the Mock Trial team to compete in a state-wide competition, representing Marin County. Like the county competition, it will take place over Zoom. Tam will face off against the winners of most other county championships in California. 

“We’re really excited to go on to the state championship,” Knowles said. The team is putting in extra hours and getting ready to compete against some of the best Mock Trial teams in the state.  “Per usual, they’re working really hard,” Alacron said. Tam has won the state competition before in years 2005, 2009, and 2018. The state competition will take place on March 17 over Zoom.