After a big win over the weekend, the Pomona College Mock Trial Team is getting ready to compete at the national championships next month.

The Sagehen team placed No. 1 at last weekend's Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) in Newport Beach, where they competed against the top 24 teams from West Coast regional tournaments, including UCLA, USC and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Winning the ORCS competition, where this season's case revolved around a robbery and murder at an amusement park, earned the Pomona team a trip to nationals. 

"We were ecstatic when we learned that not only had we qualified for nationals – we had won the entire tournament," says Melissa Fedornak '14, president of Pomona College Mock Trial.

This was just the latest trial triumph this season for the Pomona team, which only formed seven years ago. In January, the Sagehen squad placed third out of 40 highly competitive teams at the UCLASSIC invitational, placing above such established teams as Columbia, UC Berkeley and UC Irvine. At the next tournament, held at Stanford, Pomona went undefeated and came in first. Then, at the regional competition hosted by Claremont McKenna College in February, Pomona again took first place, qualifying for the Opening Round Championship Series.

The next stop is the National Championship Tournament, set for April 11-13 in Orlando, Fla. 

Kenneth Moran '15, who is studying linguistics and is in his third year on the team, says all the hard work of preparation pays off in the adrenaline-filled tournaments. "In a round, it's really, really intensely competitive," he says, noting that teammates have to wait for breaks to speak to each other. "There's a lot of drama and intensity to the atmosphere."

One thing that sets Pomona's team apart is that it draws students from a wide range of majors and interests, not just those planning to pursue law as a career. Moran notes that the team is able to bring in new members regardless of major, and still know that as Pomona students they'll be ready to handle both individual responsibilities and teamwork: "They're just really outstanding, high-performing people who enjoy outlets … that challenge them and allow them to be really competitive in the moment."

The team headed for nationals consists of Fedornak, Gabriel Bronshteyn '16, Audrey Glaser '16, Christopher Helwig '14, Abigail Liles '15, Kenneth Moran '15, Kirsten Peterson '16, Adam Revello '17 and Kelsey Schuetz '14.

As Glaser wrote in a recent post on Voices, the Pomona student blog:  "I'm addicted to the confidence I get from delivering a kickass closing, and the excitement of watching my talented teammates. Everyone on PCMT is whip-smart, a little weird and loves a challenge. I'm so grateful to have this family in my life."