Mock trial almost beats national champ

Published 9:25 am Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Albert Lea mock trial team posed for a photo at the state tournament in Duluth. The team took sixth place out of 12 teams at the tournament after winning the Region 7 tournament Feb. 23. Back row from left are coach Neil Chalmers, Logan Tufte, Carlton Stripe, Shelby Lageson, Annabelle Randall and Stuart Behling. Front row from left are Sami Klapperick, Michelle Hartmann, Macy Paul and Addison Peterson. -- Submitted photo

The Albert Lea High School mock trial team received sixth place out of 12 teams at the state tournament March 8 and 9 in Duluth.

And they almost knocked off the national champs.

“It was a lot of fun,” coach Neil Chalmers said.

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In the first round Albert Lea defeated Watertown-Mayer High School 223 to 221. In the second round, against the 2010 national champion Breck High School, Albert Lea lost 252 to 244. Albert Lea then won their third round against Lakeview School 246 to 232.

From left are seniors Shelby Lageson, Carlton Stripe and Logan Tufte. Lageson won all-state witness, and Tufte won all-state lawyer. -- Submitted photo

Breck High School again won first place and will go on to compete in the national competition. Chalmers said Breck’s score of 252 in the second round is one of the highest scores for any team in Minnesota and that Albert Lea held their own in the trial.

“We were pretty excited, especially with the great opportunity to go against the defending national champions,” Chalmers said. “It was the best round I’ve ever seen, and our kids did great.”

The Tigers won their region’s championship Feb. 23 and were one of 12 teams to go to the state tournament. There are 91 mock trial teams in the state.

Logan Tufte, a senior, won all-state lawyer, and Shelby Lageson, a senior, won all-state witness.

“It’s been such a great run with these seniors; Carlton Stripe, Logan and Shelby have been such great leaders for us,” Chalmers said. “We’re excited for next year.”

Chalmers said all mock trial teams in the state were given the same case by the state bar association, and this year’s case is the state of Minnesota v. Robin Caldwell.

All teams had to study the case and be prepared to act as defense or prosecution. The case was about the infamous murder of Elisabeth Congdon in Duluth. Rarely are the mock trial cases actual court cases, and this year was one of those exceptions. The students were excited to tour the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, where Elisabeth was found murdered.

“I liked seeing the Glensheen,” team member Addison Peterson said.

Peterson said she likes mock trial because it makes her think quickly and respond to the situations that arise during the trials. She said she enjoyed the trial against Breck because it was interesting to see how a national championship team works, but she also thinks the Albert Lea team did well against them.

“I think it was the best we’ve performed all season,” Peterson said.

Team member Annabelle Randall said she enjoys bonding with other team members and that the group is close-knit.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” Randall said.

The keynote speaker for the awards luncheon was given by Judge John DeSanto, who had been the prosecution for the Congdon case, and Chalmers said it was interesting to hear what he had to say about the case.

Chalmers said he’d like to thank the Freeborn County District Court administration for the use of the courtrooms for practice.