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UCHS Mock Trial team advances to state

The Unicoi County High School Mock Trial team successfully argued for a return to the state competition by receiving first-place honors at the regional mock trial competition for Districts 11 and 12 on Saturday, Feb. 28, in Washington County.
The 11 students that make up the team will compete in the state competition set for March 27-28 in Nashville.
“I couldn’t remember the last time we had a team finish first,” UCHS coach Sarah Shults said following the event. “I’m so excited for the team. They’re a great group of students that have put in a lot of work to get to this level. I couldn’t be any prouder of the team.”
The team also received first-place accolades in each rounds’ ballots, according to Shults.
“We had high expectations coming into the regional meet, but that was a nice surprise,” she added with a laugh. “The district coordinator informed us after the event that we placed first on all our ballots for each round.”
It is familiar territory for returning members from last year’s team. UCHS was one of three teams locally to qualify for the event from the 2014 regional competition, having earned second place, and finished highest among the local schools at the state meet in seventh place.
“It definitely helps,” Shults added about having the state experience from the previous year. “Some of our students will see some of the other students they talked to from other schools … just having the mix of experience on the team helps out extremely, especially with nerves.”
UCHS student Carter Powers brought home hardware by receiving first place in the best attorney division at the competition. Adam Larkey also received the team MVP award for UCHS.
“He picked up a spot that was previously held by someone else,” Shults said of Powers. “He did a fantastic job on cross-examination.”
Powers served up some complex mathematics during moments of the cross-examination, an added element some schools weren’t exactly prepared for, Shults added.
A host of schools made up the pool of District 11 and 12 teams, including the Kingsport Area Christian Home Education Association Kingsport (KACHEA), a winner last year and two years ago was one of the top 10 schools nationally for mock trial.
“Last year we qualified for state as the second-place team and met KACHEA in the championship,” Shults said. “They are a great, competitive team and have been over the years. We went against them in the fourth round this year.
“We didn’t have as many teams this year in the competition, likely due to the weather, so we knew the teams that competed were well-prepared. We were only authorized to have one team this season qualify for the state event. The students were out of school for almost two weeks and during that time they kept working for the event.”
UCHS students who participated in the Mock Trial competition were: Powers, Larkey, Alex Lamie, Aurora Whitson, Chandra Edwards, Dara Carney-Nedelman, Ethan Kistler, Jacob Ingram, Jared Sanchez, Osiris Vazquez and Rachel Lynch.
Donna Seagroves and Thad Higgins serve as the teacher sponsors. Mary Beth Shults and Nathan Farnor serve as student coaches for the team.