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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

Feb. 26, 2013

Mock trial team earns honorable mention at regional contest

Northwest’s 2012-13 mock trial team and their roles:

  • Carrie Christensen, attorney and witness
  • Brandi Docter, witness
  • Oscar Gardea, alternate and timekeeper
  • Kayla Helmig, witness
  • Kyle Hyde, attorney and witness
  • Berlin Merlyn, witness
  • Joseph Moore, attorney
  • Austin Olson, attorney
  • Melissa Peck, attorney and witness
  • Ashley Phelps, timekeeper and tournament director
  • Alex Reid, attorney
  • David Snyder, witness
  • Michael Tracy, attorney and witness
  • Jacob Welchins, witness
  • Ryan Williams, attorney

Northwest Missouri State University’s mock trial team completed its season Feb. 15-17 at the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) Great Plains Regional Tournament and earned the coveted Spirit of AMTA Award.

Competing in the regional tournament at Washburn University, Northwest earned 27 out of a possible 30 points. Teams are judged for the Spirit Award based on a round-by-round peer evaluation. Northwest has won the award twice previously in addition to three honorable mentions.

Carrie Christensen, a sophomore English major from Malvern, Iowa, also received an Outstanding Witness Award at the regional tournament.

Despite fielding a young and inexperienced team this year, several individual members made their mark, said Daniel Smith, an assistant professor of political science, pre-law advisor and mock trial coach.

Divided into an “A” team and a “B” team, altogether Northwest mock trial members earned four individual awards this season in addition to the Spirit of AMTA Award. They narrowly missed five additional awards and fell just a few points short of contending at the regional tournament.

“We made some remarkable strides,” Smith said. “It is extremely rare for freshmen to win individual awards, but three freshmen accomplished that feat this year.”

In addition to the regional tournament, the Northwest team traveled Jan. 18-19 to Columbia for the Mid-Missouri Invitational, hosted by Columbia College. Alex Reid, a senior marketing and business management major from Onslow, Iowa, received an Outstanding Attorney Award, scoring a perfect 20 points. Freshmen political science majors Kyle Hyde, of Maryville, and Berlin Merlyn, of Waverly, Neb., received Outstanding Witness Awards. 

Northwest hosted its third annual Bearcat Invitational mock trial tournament in October with 12 teams from eight universities and five states competing. The tournament introduced the Bree Berner Civility Award, modeled after the Spirit of AMTA Award given to the team that most embodies the ideals of honesty, civility and fair play. Berner, an award-winning mock trial competitor and the Northwest mock trial team’s president during 2010-11, was on hand to give the award to Central College (Iowa). Northwest sophomore Joseph Moore also received an Outstanding Attorney Award at the tournament.

Ashley Phelps, a sophomore business management major from Kellerton, Iowa, served as the tournament director for the second consecutive year, handling all scheduling, communications and on-site management. She also serves as timekeeper for the team.

“In only three years, the Bearcat Invitational has become one of the most highly regarded tournaments in the region, and we have been consulted by multiple schools regarding how to run an effective tournament, in no small measure due to Ashley’s dedication and organizational skills,” Smith said.

Northwest's mock trial team competes in regional and national competitions sponsored by the AMTA. Students prepare cases and play the roles of attorneys and witnesses during simulated trials before professional judges and attorneys. Mock trial gives undergraduate students an opportunity to learn firsthand about the judicial process and the work of trial attorneys, as well as honing communications skills.

For more information about mock trial, visit The American Mock Trial Association, or contact Smith at 660.562.1293 or

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468