Special to the Register
The B. Michael Caudill Middle School mock trial team placed first Feb. 15 in the Kentucky Middle School Mock Trial State Championship Tournament conducted in Richmond.
The tournament victory includes an invitation to attend the state high school mock trial tournament March 8-10 in Richmond and Lexington. The team will get to compete against the high schoolers if a bracket opening becomes available.
Schools in the tournament also included Clark-Moores and Foley middle schools of Madison County as well as Hardin Christian Middle School of Vine Grove in Hardin County. Two other middle schools were expected to participate, but unforeseen circumstances prevented them.
The Caudill Spartans practiced at least 10 hours each week in preparation for the tournament, coached by Madison District Judge Earl Ray Neal and school sponsor Dana Livingston.
Although the work was difficult, it also was fun and worthwhile, said team member Jordon Cottrell, 13. He said he enjoyed getting to do something he loved that also made his school proud.
“My biggest challenge was probably memorizing the material and applying it to thinking on your feet,” he said.
Cottrell, who was named Best Attorney for his team in the tournament, said he wants to be a attorney when he grows up, which was his mother’s dream when she was younger.
“It was fun to see it all come together,” said Maria Hoover, 14, “like what we worked so hard for — we were finally were able to put it all together. All the tears were worth it. Thank you, Judge Neal.”
For Abryhauna Duerson, 13, the best part of the experience was exceeding expectations.
“Just knowing that when we went up against Madison Central High School, Judge Neal had very high expectations (for us),” Duerson said. “And when we came to the middle schools, we kind of blew them out of the park!”
“My favorite part was the teamwork that went into the entire success of the tournament on Friday,” said Kyle McGlothlin, 13, who was named the team’s Best Overall Witness. “As we all worked together, we didn’t play individually. We played as Caudill. Judge Neal really helped us achieve the next level, he pushed us hard and it paid off.”
McGlothlin said he aspires to paleontology as a future career.
Luke Martinez, 13, though interviewed separately, Martinez almost echoed McGolthlin’s sentiment.
“The team, how we acted, the brotherhood and sisterhood, that was the best part,” Martinez said. “How we stayed together and had each others’ backs all the way through. We just kept it together like Judge Neal taught us, how we were supposed to sit, answer and conduct ourselves — and in the end we won!"
Martinez said he wanted to be a geologist, or possibly an attorney, someday.
For some students, including Autumn Clark, 14, Amelia Clark, 11, and Jessica Abner, 12, just getting to play a part in the mock trial tournament was thrilling.
“I get to act like anything when I’m a witness, and no one judges me,” Abner said.
For others, training and competing at such a high level was exciting and challenging.
“It was often difficult knowing the part when other attorneys cross (examine) you, because you have no idea what they’re going to say,” said Spencer Brock. “You have to know what you can and can’t admit to. We read the deposition so many times, but it was our job to know it inside and out, and we did.”
“Being able to work with Judge Neal helped us really improve,” said Evan Williams, 13. “He set our standards high and we were able to perform better.”
Others, such as sixth-grader Andrew Sisson, 12, found the competition to be less stressing than he expected.
For everyone involved, however, this year’s Kentucky Middle School Mock Trial State Championship Tournament was a time well spent and a victory well earned.
“Whenever I first started, I didn’t think I’d like this,” said Ryan McKinney, 12. “Later I just realized this is amazing!”
“I feel like this is our best team ever and that the kids really put a lot of hard work into it, and all their hard work has paid off,” Livingston said. “Our team was phenomenal this year.”