College of Wooster’s Moot Court Team Flies High as One of Nation’s Elite
Team captures championships in three of four major categories at national tournament
WOOSTER, Ohio — The College of Wooster’s Moot Court team further enhanced its reputation as one of the nation’s elite programs with another outstanding performance at the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (AMCA) national tournament, which was hosted by Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach Jan. 18-19.
This year’s tournament focused on two constitutional questions — one dealing with the 1st amendment and the other with the 14th amendment — and Wooster fared extremely well, capturing national championships in three of the four major categories.
Wooster’s top finishers in the main competition were senior Amanda Collins and sophomore Alexi Ehrlich, who were national runners up in oral argument. They were joined by juniors Mae Manupipatpong and Eric Petry, who advanced to the Elite Eight; senior Stephen Perrott and junior Andrea Patton, who advanced to the Sweet 16; and senior Rachel Shonebarger and junior Rachel Myers, who made it to the round of 32. Junior Erica Rickey and her partner, first year student Alex Downes, made it to the play-in round on the second day, where they were eliminated.
Individually, Shonebarger was named top orator in the nation and, together with Myers, was awarded first place in the nation for their written Brief for the Respondent. “It was such an honor to win several awards, but none of them would have been possible without the help of our coaches (Mark Weaver and John Rudisill), attorneys in the Wooster area, and my teammates,” said Shonebarger. “It has been such a pleasure to be part of Wooster's Moot Court team for the last four years. The experience has taught me a lot about the law, about hard work, and most importantly about teamwork.”
Also earning national championship honors in brief writing were Petry and Manupipatpong, who combined to capture first place in the category of Brief for the Petitioner. “Any time you win a national competition it is pretty exciting,” said Petry. “We put a lot of time and effort into the brief writing, so it was very rewarding to finish first. It was even more satisfying to see Dr. Weaver’s expression when we came back to the table with the first-place plaque because he does so much to help our team be successful."
“This was one of the deepest teams I ever had,” said Weaver, professor of political science and longtime head coach of Wooster’s Moot Court team. “We had several student teams that were good enough to go all the way.”
Indeed, Wooster would have fared even better had several of its teams not run into each other in the early rounds — the result of a rule change that previously protected schools from facing their teammates during the elimination rounds on the second day of the tournament. Shonebarger and Myers were defeated by Perrott and Patton in the Round of 32, while Petry and Manupipatopong lost to Collins and Ehrlich in the Round of Eight.
"All eight of the teams that we took to nationals deserved to be in the finals,” said Collins. “What sets Wooster’s Moot Court (program) apart is the knowledge and example of Dr. Weaver, and the priority we put on team success. We support each other and try to push each other so that we are at our best."
Rounding out the Wooster contingent of national participants were sophomore Luke Tonat and senior Richard Pinkston; sophomore Alana Deluty and first-year Ben Taylor; and senior Christina Polet and junior Dan Cohen.
“The students were just spectacular,” said Rudisill, associate professor of philosophy and assistant coach of Wooster’s moot court team. “We wish we would have swept all the major categories with a win in the oral argument, but we are extremely pleased all the same. Once again, Mark Weaver prepared an elite team for The College of Wooster.”
In reflecting on the overall experience, Weaver said that the educational value of moot court is as important as where team’s finish in the competition. “This program has been so good for so many students over the years,” he said. “Win or lose, they have gained a lot of skills. It’s not just about where you finish, but what you learn along the way.”