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2023 Pre-Season Analysis Empty 2023 Pre-Season Analysis

Sat Aug 27, 2022 1:07 am
Hello AMTA community!

We at Mock Analysis Is My Drug are extremely excited for the unofficial beginning of the AMTA season with the case having just been released! We’re all about to dive headfirst into preparing the case for early season invitationals.

As we do each summer, we put our heads together and made some preseason predictions about which teams look like threats in the coming year. Our aim is to start a discussion about where every program stands and where they’ll go moving forward. Of course, different cases play to certain styles and since the case has not been released we can’t factor that in—but we’d love to see your thoughts about whether it changes anything once it is. This post has 3 parts: (1) our MAIMD top 25 Power Rankings for the upcoming season, (2) a list of individual competitors to look out for, and (3), some predictions for this year’s tournament results.

Everything here is meant to start a discussion. We don’t expect everything we have to be correct or that everyone will agree with us. But we at Mock Analysis Is My Drug hope that you find this post interesting and engaging as we transition into another exciting year of mock trial!

Top 25 Power Rankings

Mock Analysis Is My Drug is pleased to include our Preseason Top 25 Power Rankings. These rankings were based on a composite of the rankings of all of our contributors, based on our own competitive experiences from previous seasons as well as tab summary analysis and number-crunching. These rankings are meant to reflect overall team power from the very first invitational all the way to the National Championship. We recognize that these types of rankings are inherently subjective.

1) Harvard A:
Yeah, here’s a real original take from MAIMD. As much as we posture about the strength of our analysis, we have to admit that this ranking was a little bit of a no-brainer. Even if Harvard hadn’t taken home the Richard Calkins trophy this past April, and even if they weren’t returning nearly every single member of the team that did it, there would still be a hell of a lot to say about Harvard’s strength as a team this coming season. First off, this is the most decorated team in the country right now. Returning for their senior season—which is at this point, really, a victory lap—are former captains Stella Asmerom and Travis Harper. A dynamic duo if AMTA has ever had one, Asmerom and Harper share five All-Americans between the two of them—Harper pulling an impressive perfect thirty ranks as defense closer and Asmerom managing 23, despite not having a statement and facing a brief crisis of captains parade laryngitis. Asmerom and Harper have been the engine behind Harvard A for the past two years, but this season we’re going to see them pass on the reins to the next generation. Captaining Harvard A will be final-round opener Jessica Alexander and Harvard’s other three-time All-American double threat, Audrey Vanderslice. There’s not much else we can say about Alexander or Vanderslice that would do more to illustrate their talents than their performances in that final, but we just think it’s important to emphasize that not only are they both some of the best in the country—they were also both sophomores. Think about the performances you saw on that Lancaster livestream, and thank your lucky stars Alexander and Vanderslice decided to pass on this year’s Rookie Rumble. Now granted, it’s not all sunshine and roses for Harvard. We’re sure Alexander and Vanderslice are going to spend a lot of time this year worrying about how the rest of Harvard A’s season went—the 5-3 at Regionals and ORCS to National Champions pipeline is nothing if not precarious. But even quibbling with that feels a little bit like sour grapes. The facts are, close call or not, Harvard A did bid to NCT, and then sure as hell proved they deserved to once they got there. To cut right to the chase: the Calkins Trophy in 2023 is Harvard A’s to lose.

2) Chicago A:
The Maroons are coming into the 2022-23 season in one of the best positions any team could hope to be in: returning the entirety of their 2022 final round team—minus their closer, Ethan Hsi. We really shouldn’t have many questions about what comes next here, so the fact we do is actually a testament to Chicago’s greatest strength as a program. There isn’t a prototypical UChicago brand of mock in the way there is for most other traditional powerhouses. Unlike the rest of the teams with top level TPR, it’s hard to see much of a trend running down the list of UChicago’s all-time greatest. You’ve got smooth, polished, polite opener Ali AlEkri sitting on the same bench as aggressive, angry and Stern-esque Ethan Hsi. It’s far from the case that UChicago is the first program to ever field a diversity of styles within the same team, but when UChicago’s competitors have ranged from the captivating and dynamic Regina Campbell to Mr. Midwest “let’s play ball” Sam Farnsworth to “being dreamy is a part of my mock style” smokeshow opener Sahil Nerurkar, you’ve gotta give credit to head coach Sam Jahangir for his maybe-unrivaled capacity to bring out the best potential of every individual he coaches, rather than molding to an archetype. So even though we know most of what we’re going to be seeing from UChicago next season—poised demeanor and gentlemanly opening statements from returning TBC competitor AlEkri, doe-eyed parties from Julianna Mothersbaugh, zany and high-energy character witnesses from Max Fritsch—the question of who fills in that last spot on the A team that graduating senior Hsi left behind is entirely open-ended. The style they’ll bring to the bench or stand could be something we haven’t yet seen before from the Maroons. Be on the lookout for Ethan Donovan—the top ranked attorney and witness from the Rookie Rumble’s Riggs division—as potentially next in line. The one thing we can count on is that, whether it’s Donovan or someone else entirely, the newest member of Chicago A is going to be part of a darn good team. Keep an eye on the Maroons for a repeat final round appearance this season—there’s no other team playing at the highest level who does it quite like UChicago.

3) Tufts A:
To absolutely no one’s surprise, MAIMD once again places their bets on the Jumbos. We know at this point it seems like we’re a broken record—“overwhelming talent, strong leadership, the institutional strength to break through to the final round”—but we promise that it’s a refrain we keep on repeating because it continues to hold true. Now, it’s no secret that Tufts will have to deal with some serious losses this year. There’s not a team in the country that wouldn’t feel anxious losing the steady and all-knowing hand of Bennett Gil Demsky at the helm. But the Jumbos have plenty of places to pull from in replacing that singular attorney talent. Margaret Veglahn and Cole Reese will return to the team, both of whom awarded while sharing a bench with Demsky in the spring, and they’ve got standouts like All-National Tufts B attorney Ian Carson ready to move up into the spotlight. The real deficit we expect the Jumbos are going to struggle making up is in the witnessing department—while their B team standouts Glorious Bombo and Wesley Jansen are talented, it’s hard to put together any duo that can match the resume of graduating All-American seniors Brett Sachs and Alexander Thompson, who share twenty-five awards between them. The very best sign of the Jumbos’ future success in 2023 is returning All-American Fatima Lawan. We’ve got Lawan penciled in as the best witness in the country right now, and there’s good reason for that—last April she managed to earn her All-American while sharing the spotlight on a witness bench with both Sachs and Thompson. To make a long writeup short, we’re not going to shut up about Tufts anytime soon. Second place twice in a row is a hell of a record, and sooner or later those three crucial elements: “overwhelming talent, strong leadership, and institutional experience” are going to keep translating to success. Rest assured to all their fans—the Jumbos’ time in the sun is far from over.

4) UCLA A:
If mock trial only existed on the West Coast, UCLA would unquestionably dominate the activity. The program has stood firmly as the top-ranked West Coast program for at the very least the past seven years. Some programs have depth on their side; others have stand-out talent; some have extremely dedicated coaching. UCLA is one of the elite and lucky few that have all three. But we might see 2023 might be something of a rebuilding year for this powerhouse. UCLA is losing a number of program fixtures, including decorated competitors Andrew Moon, Natalie Penn, and Riley Shapiro, as well as TBC competitor Camille Schaefer. Nonetheless, despite losing nearly half of their A team, the Bruins are packed with talent. The Bruins are historically quite deep–their A team had a successful 2021-2022 season with a 6-2 record at ORCS and an impressive 2nd place finish in their division at NCT, but their program’s B team was not far behind, finishing 7th at the LA ORCS. If their ORCS performance wasn’t enough to show the strength of the younger competitors in the program, their presence at Rookie Rumble certainly did. The Bruins brought two teams; one placing 4th in their division, and the other winning their division and losing in the final. With a team packed with as much talent as UCLA, we’re certain there are arguably a dozen names we could list off here as potentials to fill in on A, but there are a couple names we’ll call out that we expect to hear quite often at closing ceremonies. Emily Spears, the Bruins’ B team closer this past season, is one to watch out for. With six different attorney awards in the 2021-2022 season, we expect to see Spears closing on UCLA A. Also keep your eyes on incoming junior Ria Debnath. Debnath, who also competed on UCLA B, finished the past season with five attorney awards. Debnath will be a force to be reckoned with for the coming year, as her previous season demonstrated her dangerous strength as an opener and closer. Teams should also be on the lookout for A team double-threat Connor Nickson and TBC second-chair Michael Blaine. 2023 might be the year of UCLA suffering from success, as we expect the program will struggle less with performing well this season, and more with deciding how to distribute its talent. With a plethora of competitors who have waited their turn, who lands where will be the key factor in how UCLA performs in the coming season. The Bruins will need to choose their stacks in a way that optimizes their chances of a spot in the final round at NCT–something they’ve come painstakingly close to with second place in 2022 and third place in 2021. If they can do that, every mocker who’s been watching this titan on the West Coast knows they have a good chance to win.

5) Yale A:
From 2015 to 2021, the Yale Mock Trial Association reigned supreme over collegiate mock trial. Six straight final round appearances–a feat of dominance that’s unmatched by pretty much any other program in the entire national history of lawyer cosplay. Sara Campbell’s Bulldogs flew into Lancaster last April with shoes to fill that were so big they might as well have been for clowns. But like the Romans, the Mongols, and the Habsburgs learned, eventually even the mightiest of empires must fall. As Robert Frost said, nothing gold can stay. The Bulldogs capped off their season with a third place finish in the Doss division, winning a trophy that would sit as the crown jewel in almost any other program’s trophy cabinet and ending a dynasty that has no real rival in AMTA history. Or so you might think. What if we were to tell you that the third place team from Yale was composed almost solely of underclassmen? What if we were to tell you that aside from TBC competitor and 2-time All-American Sara Campbell and her co-captain Hudson Patterson, that entire team is coming back? What if we were to tell you that even though this looks like the end of an era, our official Mock Analysis opinion is that it just might be the calm before the storm? Would that change things for you? This Yale team has all the pieces in place to launch a new dynasty, one that could be equally—if not more—fearsome. Young stars like Everett Parker-Noblitt, Grace Dodd, and Ezekiel McDavid round out a core that boasts a really rare combination of youth and know-how. Those two ingredients—youth and high-level mock experience—make for a hell of a great recipe. In 2021, Harvard’s team of underclassmen placed sixth—and we all know what happened next. No one here would be surprised to see the Bulldogs take a similar leap this year in Memphis. The first Yale team in a long time to fly under the radar could very well end up outperforming expectations. Would any of us really be surprised?

6) Patrick Henry A:
Let’s start with some numbers. Patrick Henry College has about 300 students. This past season Patrick Henry had two teams at NCT. Do some math (divide, carry the one…whatever), and you get that about 6% of Patrick Henry students were NCT competitors. That is to say, if you go to Patrick Henry, you know mock trial, and maybe more importantly, if you know mock trial, you know Patrick Henry. In case you’ve missed it, Patrick Henry has been one of the strongest programs in AMTA for the last few years, and we don’t expect that to change any time soon. Patrick Henry is coming off of a season that truly only they could call underwhelming. While typically, PHC is one of the handful of blockbuster programs that take home four or five Regionals trophies (and leave behind a smattering of open bids in their place), this fall they only saw their A team and C team bid to ORCS—with their D team even taking a ballot off Notre Dame A on Notre Dame’s Road To Lancaster. Patrick Henry rose to the occasion at the bloodbath that was the Atlanta ORCS, managing to squeeze two teams through the gauntlet and walk out unscathed, holding the 1st and 3rd bids to NCT. In Pennsylvania, the A team ended their season with a fourth-place trophy and the invaluable bragging rights of being able to say that they were the only team in the Stressman division to take a ballot off of Harvard A. On the flip side, Patrick Henry B had a slight downturn from their year prior, but still received an honorable mention and took down the defending National Champions by trouncing the Retrievers of UMBC in R4. Looking to the future, there’s a lot to be cynical about for Patrick Henry. Their A team was composed of many now-graduated seniors, like Trial By Combat champion Ben Crosby and All-American David Bainbridge, a pair that’s been the anchor of the Patriots’ A team for many years now. But even with those losses, they are still in our top 6—because we’re confident they have the talent to fill the void. While you might not have to worry about running into Crosby or Bainbridge in the courtroom this fall, you’ll have to fear their standout witness and freshman, Clara Harney, who received an All-American at this past NCT, rising senior Nathan York, who was an All-National attorney, and All-American Caleb Knox. It's safe to say Patrick Henry will do well, but whether this is the year they will get their shot at a final round remains to be seen.

7) Duke A:
Duke has been about as steady as they come in recent seasons, and we don’t see that changing.  They’ve qualified for the last three Nationals, and in those three attempts? They’ve placed 4th, 4th, and 5th. We’ve watched them replace one talented competitor after another (Tristan Malhotra, Sonali Mehta, Seva Castleberry, AG Chancellor…), and the result has stayed the same. This past year we had some concerns: Duke seemed particularly specialized toward the online format, and they had the lost their recent coach Eric Roytman. But they held ground once more behind outgoing senior stalwarts Juliana Mayer and Emil Zakarian. This year, we have little reservation about whether Duke can keep pace in person. But the coaching question remains. We have often seen that when an important coach leaves a program, it’s the second season after they leave when the cracks start to show. And Duke has a history: they’ve been at the very top of AMTA with good coaching; but just good, not great, without it. Can Duke reload their coaching staff? Or can they keep pace without it? That’s a key question for the Blue Devils 2022-23 season. Replacing Mayer and Zakarian will also be key. Mayer, despite being the All-American and TBC competitor of the duo, may be more easily replaced. Duke is stocked with plenty of attorney talent between All-American double threat Kaleb Amare, future star Jacob Hervey, and the lethally consistent Nellie Sun. The bigger question for Duke will be replacing Zakarian, who has anchored the character witness slot on Duke A for four consecutive years. Evan Chan will certainly be a great sympathetic witness once again. And we know Duke has several strong options at expert, even beyond Amare’s All-American expert capabilities. But where that character flair will come from is a mystery at the moment.  Will it come from last year’s B team? Maybe, but it’s possible the development pipeline isn’t what it used to be. Sonali Mehta coached the B team that placed 5th at Nationals in 2021. But without her last season, the B Blue Devils flopped at the Memphis ORCS. At least for this season, however, we think there is just too much talent in Durham to keep the Blue Devils down. Don’t be surprised when they’re in the mix in Rounds 3 and 4 in Memphis (this time in April) once again.

8 ) Virginia A:
How far the mighty have fallen. Let’s paint a picture here: as an anonymous analysis collective, MAIMD has been at the Mock Analysis game for five years. We’ve written four pre-season posts like this one: never dropped Virginia A outside of the top four. We’ve written four pre-NCT prediction posts: never left Virginia A outside of the top five. We’ve started our season with declaring the Cavaliers the future National Champions not once but twice, and we have bet on seeing Virginia in a final round more often than any other team in AMTA—including Yale, who actually pulled off a final round appearance streak. So eighth place? Eighth place is an insult to the Cavalier’s honor just short of personally calling the Honorable Toby J. Heytens a skank. On the one hand, one could argue that this is an overreaction. Lest we forget, Virginia did once again return to the top 5 of NCT this year after a brief two-year drought. They even did it with a B team full of young talent, headlined by boy wonder Ethan Marx. But on the other hand, this fall from grace isn’t without basis. Virginia A hasn’t done much winning the past three years (no matter how rising sophomore Anabelle Claypoole brands them in their promotional instagram recruitment videos). For Virginia A, there was no placement in 2022, no placement in 2021, and no bid to NCT at all in 2020. While other Cavalier teams, including that aforementioned 2022 Virginia B team, have taken home enough laurels to keep the Cavaliers strongly competitive, the lack of accolades for the A team give us cause for concern about the engine driving the unstoppable train that is Virginia Mock Trial. Notably, since Virginia’s head coach, Toby Heytens, stopped being a full time law professor and started a career in high profile public service (first as the solicitor general of Virginia and then as a federal judge) the team has slowly started to slide away from the sheer dominance they had in the early new case years. Given that their successful B team seems to have been under different leadership for Nationals, we have to wonder if the decision making engine of this team is suffering. Then again, we’re nothing if not reliably unreliable. Toby Heytens might just be laughing at all of us this time next year, reading yet another neat paragraph recycling the same three jokes, with the name Virginia written once again right under the number one.

9) Florida A:
With so many incredible feats over the course of the 2022 season, perhaps the least talked about is that the University of Florida managed to get all five teams a bid out of Regionals not once—but for two consecutive years. That’s the kind of achievement that leaves no questions asked. Rest assured, the University of Florida’s mock trial program is deep, deep as the depths of the swamps of the Everglades (forgive us. As you might have noticed from the way we name our Regionals, geographic puns aren’t exactly our forte). But allowing us to make jokes about America’s National Parks isn’t the reason why Florida A makes our top 25 yet again. This team is a powerhouse, and has been one for years under the iron grip of head coach Laura Sjoberg, who has made sure that going into this season we have a lot of litigators to watch out for. Our current favorite? All-American power duo Mia Venezia and Sahas Chintakayala. Let’s start with defense closer Mia Venezia. Mia was this year's Florida A captain, and judging by her 26 rank All-American, we’re guessing she’s not slowing down anytime soon. Next we have the expert on all things… well… expert: Sahas Chintakayala. This double threat racked up trophies for UF’s collection when he awarded at Concrete Jungle, Great Chicago Fire, and Regionals. For the past two years Sahas has come out of Nationals with an All-American title in hand and if the Gators past consistency tells us anything, it’s that he’ll be in the running to make it a third. But Florida consistency isn’t always a positive thing. Every season we see the same story from our favorite swamp squad: Florida is successful, but never quite at the top of the field. Florida’s 2021 B team deviated from this narrative a bit when they placed third in their division, but after this past year it seems as though we’re back to the same powerhouse that never quite reaches the finish line. But every year is a new lineup and with 3 members of this past year's A team gone, we’re wondering if Florida will shake their consistency—for better or for worse.

10) Georgia A:
The Bulldogs have come a long way since their infamous 2019 road to stardom. Flashback to the 2019 Memphis ORCS. Georgia successfully squeezed not one but two teams through a grueling schedule and were one of just three programs to send two teams to Philadelphia. Georgia came out of the 2019 season with all eyes on them. However, for the next two years, Georgia hid in the shadows. They failed to get a bid out of the 2021 ORCS by just one point, and haven’t appeared on a preseason rankings list until this year. It appeared for a moment that Georgia’s star had dimmed… at least until Memphis ORCS in 2022. In an eerily familiar set of circumstances, Georgia blasted through a difficult Memphis ORCS and managed to secure their first bid to the National Championship since 2019. Georgia’s return to the very top echelon of mock trial isn’t the only reason we’ve got them rounding out our top 10. In Lancaster, these Bulldogs showed that they were a program to fear, placing 3rd in their division and walking away with two All-Americans. It was no cakewalk to get there either. In collecting the 8 ballots they took home that weekend, the Bulldogs won rounds against honorable mentions Wisconsin and Washington and Lee, as well as a perennial powerhouse in Miami. We’re also confident that Georgia is no flash in the pan—and instead a team worthy of their 10th place ranking—because they are returning almost their entire 2022 nationals team. This team of seven had only two seniors, Daniel McDonald and Priya Khote. While losing them will certainly put a dent in this A team, Georgia will retain their two All-Americans, Bryan Walker and Ty Burns, as well as All-National Attorney Justin Xu and All-National Witness Ronan Leudet De Le Vallee. This group of four is slated to keep Georgia on the map. Xu and Walker have complimentary styles that make for dangerous open/close pair, while Ronan and Ty have mastered the art of captivating judges with funny and entertaining character witnesses. While they certainly may be an unpredictable team, they undeniably have strength, talent, and, rumor has it, a mime—three important components for any team looking to do well at a high level. With an awards shelf like that, it’s clear: Georgia has the players to make it to the final round. But given what happened after their previous banner year in 2019, the question still remains: will history repeat itself?

11) UC Berkeley A:
For many years, the Golden Bears of Berkeley A have been a force to be reckoned with on the West Coast. Unlike the other reliable West Coast powerhouse, UCLA, Berkeley has achieved this level of success with a different strategy for A team stacking—usually opting for a smaller square with only 6 or 7 competitors. It’s hard to argue their strategy of using a smaller group hasn’t paid off, and anyone who’d like to has a fifth-place division trophy from Lancaster this April to argue with. But looking forward to 2022, it’s clear that this success comes at a price. While nearly every team on this list is losing heavy hitters, Berkeley’s attrition cuts deeper. Kensington Cotter and Rebecca Steinberg graduating means that Berkeley A is losing all of their A team statementers—which is unquestionably a tough loss to bounce back from. Even their B team closer, Anagha Chandramouli, who racked up several awards at invites this year, will be leaving. That being said, hope isn’t lost yet for the Golden Bears—Berkeley certainly isn’t short on promising attorneys. All-National attorney Darius Parakh from their B team is a strong candidate for A this year, and All-National attorney Ravi Patel has already proven his strength after being pulled up to A for Lancaster last season. It’s hard to say whether or not these two competitors are ready to fill the shoes left for them, especially if Berkeley continues doing the double-sided-do-si-do this upcoming season. We have a feeling that if Berkeley A is going to retain their level of success, it won’t be spearheaded by who they've got sitting on the bench, but rather who they have sitting on the witness stand. Christopher Ying, 2022 All-American, and Daniel Sosa, former Gladiator, are both coming back and will likely lead the push to Memphis. The two of them will carry the witness lineup in versatility and experience, and they won’t be alone. We expect All-National witness Justin McGrath to be joining them on A this year. And that’s just from their B team. Depending on who the Bears end up utilizing, All-Regional witnesses Jacob Patel and Marianne Sarne from Berkeley C and D could very easily find their way onto a top team this year. One thing is for certain: Berkeley A is going to put on a show this year. But if you want to see what this team has to offer, we’d recommend keeping your focus on who is getting called to testify.

12) Northwestern A:
9th in their division in 2018, 9th again in 2019, 10th in 2021, and 8th in 2022. Any one of these placements would be a dream come true for most teams. But all four of them in a row? We have to begin to wonder whether or not these placements are becoming a bit of a nightmare for Northwestern, a team that can never quite break through. Sure, suffering from success isn’t a bad thing, and the Wildcats should be proud to note that the only other team who rivals their current streak of top-ten Nationals placements is Yale. But when you earn nearly the same placement for 5 consecutive years and even your Rookie Rumble team is coming in 9th, you’ve got to start wondering if you’re cursed. So will 2023 be the year that a trophy with a 7, 6, or even a lower number makes its way back to Evanston? Northwestern surely has the talent to make it happen. They’ll be led this year by an incredibly strong core group of seniors including President and All-National Attorney Abigail Roman-Ahlgrim, All-American expert extraordinaire Will Hopkins, and one of AMTA’s best double threats in Tahj Burnett. But the Wildcats aren’t entering this season unscathed. They’re taking some big losses with a one-two-punch from losing All-American witness Olivia O’Brien and TBC competitor Ruby Scanlon, both of whom have been competing together on Northwestern A since 2019. But Northwestern has lost star competitors before and managed to maintain their consistency. And after a second consecutive win at Beach Party this past year, we know they have one of the circuit's strongest B teams. The real test for the Wildcats’ upcoming season is how they’ll handle the loss of two coaches in Kate Hayner-Slattery and Nat Warner to Wisconsin and Columbia, respectively. Without the help from these powerhouse coaches we’re left wondering if the Wildcats might see a repeat of some of their struggles this past season when they failed to bid out of Regionals and got swept in their D group matchup at ORCS. Our eyes are on the Wildcat—if Northwestern can’t figure out how to be a bit less coached than usual, they might break their curse of 8th, 9th, and 10th place finishes by failing to place at all.

13) Georgia Tech A:
Every once in a while, AMTA sees an individual career so spectacular that it defines a program. Logistically, this seems impossible—even at their greatest heights, a competitor can only put a finite number of 30 points on a ballot. But even so, some all-time great names—Gaskins, Johnson, Preston-Austin—saw their teams’ success rise to its greatest heights in tandem with their success as individuals. Chief among these was icon, legend, and four-time All-American Sarah Stebbins, whose time as captain of the Yellow Jackets saw them almost leaving NCT with a division championship. And then, as college students are wont to (eventually) do, Stebbins graduated. And Georgia Tech matriculated a newfound streak of mediocrity—failing to bid to NCT in 2021 and getting a bid from their B team in 2022. So when we look to predict what Georgia Tech’s prospects are going to be for 2023—prospects they’ve certainly got based on their recent 6th place NCT finish in the Doss division—we have to ask ourselves: who’s next? The obvious answer is recent TBC superstar Varun Aggarwal. While Aggarawal’s first time competing on a Georgia Tech A team was in Lancaster, he left with an All-American for his trophy cabinet and an invitation to compete amongst the best sixteen competitors in the country in his email inbox. But despite being the fan favorite, Aggarawal isn’t the only standout in Georgia Tech’s star-studded cast. Also keep your eye on Rookie Rumble champion Gurvin Anand and All-National attorney Surbhi Bhatter. It’s also possible that we’re looking at the entire wrong part of the courtroom for Georgia Tech talent—while Aggarawal got all the accolades for his All-American attorney in Lancaster, we’d be remiss to forget that rising senior Wren Mallikarjunan and rising junior Jordan Spencer also boarded the flight home as All-American witnesses. And really, with talent like this, why stop the story with just one competitor? For all we know, the next all-time great Georgia Tech team might be assembling right before our eyes: an ensemble cast, not an unstoppable one-woman show.

14) Wash U St. Louis A:
For years, we’ve been telling you to keep an eye on WashU—from their Nationals bid in 2020 (but no Nationals), to an almost-there ORCS finish in 2021, to a truly stellar invitational record last fall, it was only a matter of time before the Bears put it all together: a top ten finish in the Streseman division, their best result in over 5 years. What we never could have expected is how that result came: off of bid from their B team, and a restacked, majority underclassmen WashU A. While that rollercoaster of a season was tumultuous, it is to their benefit now as they look forward into 2023 with a younger roster. Let’s start with talent: this team is returning veteran closer Sofie Adams, who racked up 5 awards last year, along with double threat Zach Stern, who can cry, cross, and character as well as just about anyone and will be looking to end his AMTA career with a bang this season. And then there’s rising sophomore Lucy Demsky, who earned an All-Regional witness award, an All-National attorney award, and is fresh off a 26 rank Rookie Rumble award—no small feat when your benchmate is rising junior Margaret Veglahn of Tufts. That core of talent, combined with the experience gained from a Nationals appearance, gives us a lot of confidence that WashU can keep up the momentum and aim for Memphis with ambitions of more than just a top-ten placement. But if this team wants to move into the ranks of the truly elite, they’ve still got some work ahead of them. Aside from Stern, it’s not clear that WashU has any standout witnesses, and we know how much that matters at the top level. And in a year that can be make-or-break for a team on the rise, they’re also losing coach Max Handler, who led their B team through ORCS and took the helm of the combined WashU NCT team. Be that as it may, none of us want our teams to hit WashU this year. They’ve got the deadly combination of youth and experience that leads to brilliant things.

15) Rhodes A:
To paraphrase the words of great American poet Robert Frost, “two Rhodes diverged in a yellow wood” for the 2022 AMTA season. This is the year we’re going to see the Lynx of Rhodes at a tipping point. On the one hand, they're in a great spot to decisively prove that their missed bid in 2021 was a fluke and return to a prominence in AMTA as “indomitable as father time,” as we said last year. They’ve certainly got the beginnings of that kind of season ahead of them, after leaving this year with a clean bid out of ORCS and a top-ten finish in Lancaster. The greatest sign for Rhodes’ return to the top is that this year they'll have the home field advantage at the Memphis NCT. Considering Rhodes racked up their once-unrivaled long standing streak of NCT appearances through the Memphis ORCS, we have to imagine that they’re not feeling too bad about their chances. On the other hand, they have to get there first. Even last year, they endured some uncertain moments throughout the invitational season and utilized a style with less performative polish than we've come to expect from the Lynx. Since last season, Rhodes A has graduated four members, including TBC competitor Elizabeth Baldwin and her second chair Sheridan Hardy, as well as award winner Jemma Clary. They're also facing the tradeoff of hosting Nationals rather than ORCS—wherever they're sent for qualifiers, it will be somewhere the perennial hosts have never had to travel to fight for an NCT bid before (and the last time they didn’t compete at their own ORCS was also the first time in 33 years they missed out on a bid). While the NCT host bid essentially guarantees we'll see Rhodes at the 2023 championship either way, their road there could determine a lot about where they end up. Keep an eye out for rising talent like Kate Buikema, who awarded at both Regionals and ORCS with Rhodes B, and attorney captain Veda Krumpe. Whether it’s for better or for worse, this year is going to be an interesting one for the Lynx. Two Rhodes diverged in a yellow wood—and the choices this team makes might make all the difference for the rest of AMTA.

16) Miami A:
What do you get when you add up the cost of two honorable mention finishes from a program that hasn’t dipped from the top ten in the ten years prior, two graduating A team attorneys, and whispers of a superpower on the decline? A head coach Neal Schuett who is very, very nervous about love and dishonor. The Cavaliers and the Lynx aren’t the only traditional powers in our top twenty who ought to be tightening their belts if they want to see a neat paragraph singing their praises in one of our writeups this time next year—the Redhawks of Miami have a lot to worry about too. Last year, we predicted the Redhawks were on a decline because of the immensely talented graduating class they’d lost. This year, that isn’t the case. While graduating seniors All-National character witness Catherine Lammersen and Cameron Metz are certainly hard losses to take, losing one or two talented members in a graduating class isn’t particularly unusual. Besides, the Redhawks have plenty of talent in their current roster—two time All-American character Jamie Coughlin is returning for her senior season, as is All-National defense closer Carlos Hernandez. Sprinkle in rising sophomores like All-National expert Julia Robinson and Rookie Rumble award-winning attorney Kayleigh Milligan, and in terms of capability to succeed, the Redhawks are all set. The real question is about their content. If you’ve hit Miami in trial this past year, you may have noticed that while their witnesses and attorneys’ performances might be on par with their superpower teams of the past, they’re lacking in other arenas. Miami A of 2022 lacks the poise under pressure and rock-solid content decisions that used to catapult their ruthless benches consistently into the top 5. With all that said, we’re aware we might be crying wolf here on declaring a decline for the Redhawks. If there’s one thing that you can count on younger greener benches to improve upon, it’s in-round judgment—and if the competitors won’t be ready to pick up the slack quite yet, then you can count on the writing staff of Coaches Schuett, Sandlin, and Glinka to be able to get these Redhawks flying back amongst their previous high heights. No one stays a mock titan forever—Rhodes showed us just that back in 2021. Only time will tell if this is Miami’s last season in the sun.

17) Emory A:
For everyone that’s been crossing their fingers before pairings at a tournament with Emory A in its ranks—don’t be fooled into thinking you're in the clear this year.  It’s undeniable that the loss of powerhouses Riya Lakkaraju and Sara DeLacey is a huge hit. It’s no easy task to fill the spot of a four time All-American who took second at TBC. It’s an even bigger challenge when her second chair is graduating the same year. But if any team is situated to pull it off, it’s be Emory A. Despite an underwhelming 2022 Nationals performance, the Eagles seem poised to come back as dynamic and affable as years past. An Emory team has made a Nationals appearance every year since 2016, including teams without the benefit of Lakkaraju and DeLacey’s starpower. Their most recent Nationals squad is returning five of their eight members. At the head of the team sits rising senior Danielle Jacoby, a ten-time award winner and All-American attorney in her own right. With several talented underclassmen rounding out the attorney benches, notably rising sophomore Noelle Barile with two awards already under her belt, Emory is sure to bring whip-smart advocacy to any round. On the witness side, the team is strong too. Leading the returning witness talent is rising senior and All-American Carson Sanford. Armed with charisma and versatility, Sanford can entertain even the most curmudgeonly of judges. It’s impressive for a team to return a single All-American, but bringing back both an attorney and witness will certainly give Emory a huge leg up. And if that’s not enough to seal high expectations for Emory, look to their B team for potential risers. They secured a Nationals bid in 2021 and just missed one at the brutal Atlanta ORCS last season. But high hopes can just as easily be dashed. Without their heavy hitters, there’s a lot of question marks as to how the team will manage to surpass their most recent 5.5 ballot Nationals record. If they can put together a winning strategy with their remaining talent and incorporate some new, they may just cement themselves as a team with serious staying power. We’re optimistic we’ll get to see the (L)Eagles put in the work to fly back to the top. But in a talent-packed South, no team is a sure thing to bid to Nats anymore.

18) Wisconsin A:
Anyone who hit Wisconsin A last spring would have been blindsided. Smooth, technical, dynamic,  Wisconsin A this year bid to Lancaster despite no member of the program having even bid from Regionals. They were well-coached, arrived at the 2022 NCT ready to compete, and because of their honorable mention performance and near-unparalleled skyrocket to success, have earned a spot in MAIMD’s top 25. There are a few reasons why Wisconsin is the only team outside of the TPR top 50 to do the latter. The first thing that stands out about the Badgers is how young they are. The team that competed in Lancaster is graduating just one senior, and their standout All-American Attorney Jackson Kunde is a rising sophomore. The witness core is strong as well, headed by double All-National Witness Blake Martin (another rising sophomore). While inexperience can often limit success at the top levels of competition, Wisconsin A’s underclassmen competitors have clearly been one of the major factors which propelled their near-200 position leap in TPR. Wisconsin’s young talent also benefits from the presence of an extremely coaching staff, including Arria Alton and the sibling power-duo of Brendan and Kate Hayner-Slattery. Last season, Kate Hayner-Slattery split her time between taking over every tab room east of the Mississippi and turning Wisconsin into a dominant force in the Midwest, and we expect these Badgers are only going to get better. There may be some naysayers who believe that Wisconsin’s 2021-22 season was a fluke, but this program has only begun their rise. Last season, their team that ran rampant through Regionals, ORCS, and competed fiercely in Pennsylvania was completely unstacked. This means that not only is Wisconsin easily the most competitive unstacked team in AMTA, but that this reign of terror is what a Wisconsin team looks like when they’re unoptimized. Now, of course, there are reasons to doubt Wisconsin, just like there are a few reasons to doubt any of the teams on this list. The Badgers are the only team listed here who don’t stack in a traditional A/B team way—and you better believe that sword has two edges: sure, they’re this darn good despite being unoptimized, but they also won’t be optimized. This program has a long way to go to reach the top, but the pieces are in place—the Badgers are going to be a scary team for years to come.

19) Stanford A:
End of an era? Or a bright young generation? Like many of the West Coast teams we’ve written about, Stanford A ended their season incredibly strong. An 8th place division finish is nothing to scoff at. But again, like many of the West Cast teams we have written about, Stanford A is set to suffer from a major power vacuum. Double side opener and double side closer Elizabeth Grant and Azam Janmohamed are leaving after 4 years of racking up more awards and All-American titles than your average first grader can count. Palo Alto also says goodbye to crier-extraordinaire Audrey Mitchell. At first glance, these major losses spell nothing but trouble. Especially considering the fact that their B team walked away from Regionals with a 4-4 record and no bid. A showing like that leaves us with some doubts about the future of their program. However, we would be remiss to count Stanford A out from a strong showing in Memphis this year. Stanford A’s double side middle attorney, Meredith Fenyo, is only 2 years into her AMTA career, and she is getting better by the second. The former Gladiator superstar spent a lot of this last fall season closing, which makes her a strong candidate to take over the reins now that Janmohamed has given up closing for a peaceful life of wedded bliss. She’ll be joined by many of the witnesses that got Stanford A to Lancaster. They’ve got a wide array of experts, characters, and party reps to choose from, so all that’s left is figuring out who is sitting with Fenyo at the bench. To answer that, look no further than the squad of Stanford B competitors who finished third at Rookie Rumble. Lee Rosenthal (All-Regional Attorney), Austin Bennet, Lisa Lu, and Natalie Gomez have proven they are cut out for the high level competition Stanford A is in store for this year. And they’ll be guided by a familiar name in West Coast Mock Trial: Eli Tannenwald, UCSB A’s graduating double threat competitor, is spending another year in the AMTA community as a coach for the Cardinals. Stanford is a program that has all the talent and resources they could need to succeed. All that’s left is putting these pieces together.

20) UC Irvine A:
The Anteaters are in prime shape. They’ve had a streak of success the past few years at Nationals and they are not slowing down anytime soon. Coming off an honorable mention at this year’s past NCT, there’s a few things about them to consider. First, they’ve graduated some very important people in All-National Competitors Brian Anderson and Matthew Eng, as well as capable team members in Nick Boroski and Briana Machhor. However, that’s not going to stop them at all. Just look at their performance in the Rookie Rumble just a few weeks ago. Second in their division—just a win and a half away from making the final round. Not only that, this team has standout talents that look primed to repeat their performances from this last year. They’ve got Josiah Jones, the opener whose name has become a staple on ballot rankings: his most recent achievement was double awarding at Rookie Rumble. Jones is as dynamic as he is technical, a rising junior poised to take the next step into the TBC echelon of star mock trial attorneys—a sure anchor for his team. There’s also All-National witness Anthony Antonyan, as well as Dylan Darwish. Let’s also not forget that this past year, their A team was not one of the two teams that got a bid out of Regionals; meaning their talent runs deep. With all of this explosive power, UC Irvine looks primed to continue their scintillating performances at tournaments this year. The question lies there, though. Their performances have been consistent, but in the past five years of NCT, they’ve only broken past 6 wins once. Gone are the days of Irvine consistently dominating on the West Coast: year after year after year, they fall short against UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Stanford. Year after year after year, they have the coaching, they have the talent, and they don’t get it done. The last Irvine team to break the mold was in 2018, when they lost out on a final round appearance to Yale B on an OCS tiebreaker. Now, 6 wins at NCT is no small feat, but if this team wants to prove that the West Coast is home to four mock trial powerhouses, not just three, they’ve got their work cut out for them. Irvine is undoubtedly on the rise. We’ll see if Josiah Jones and the team can fight their way back to the top.

21) South Carolina A:
One of these teams is not like the other… yes, one of these teams just isn’t the same. Of course, you wouldn’t know it from watching them in trial. In the courtroom, South Carolina’s Gamecocks pack as big of a punch as anyone else on this list—sharp crosses, flashy demos (perhaps you saw their portable oven in Atlanta this spring), southern charm and all-around great quality mock trial. The only thing that makes South Carolina a standout in this group of 25 is that they are the only team on our list that wasn’t sitting in that cold, rainy Lancaster baseball stadium back in April. So how did the Gamecocks make our list despite failing to bid to NCT? Well, let’s start with what happened last year. After competing at NCT in 2019 and 2021, South Carolina was assigned to the March meat grinder: the Atlanta ORCS. We had a lot to say about exactly why the stats were so tough there, but to make a long story short, some difficult pairings and unfortunate saw this team find itself 5-3, just missing out on a bid to Nationals. Now, this story isn’t unique to South Carolina. Plenty of top tier teams (Michigan and Penn State, to name two) found themselves in the same situation. But we have South Carolina on this list over other almost-NCT teams and some really entrenched national powerhouses like the 2021 champions, UMBC, because we firmly believe that South Carolina is a team on the rise. They have a bona fide star in program leader Ben Wallace the Younger, whose impostor syndrome at being AMTA’s worst Ben Wallace drove him to win an AMTA-best 10 awards last year. He’s got a divot in his head and a chip on his shoulder, and he’ll be the one driving the bus for the Gamecocks this season. He’s got depth behind him, too: Dylan Peddemors, James Bray, Gabrielle Worshek, and Salomon Campos-Rice form a nucleus that quite honestly rivals any listed in our rankings. Now, unfortunately for the Gamecocks, they will have to replace All-American Witness Hannah Perala. But here, too, they have talent waiting in the wings: All-Regional witness and Rookie Rumble award winner Ava Baber. While the way their past season ended may signal that these Gamecocks’ wings have been clipped, anyone who’s seen this team in trial knows the chicken hasn’t flown the coop just yet for Ben Wallace the Younger and South Carolina.

22) Patrick Henry B:
We never quite know how to write these. Patrick Henry B isn’t the first B team we’ve covered in our top 25 list, but every time we find ourselves sitting down to write the paragraph, we find ourselves with more questions than answers. Really, what do you say about a team of competitors who are strong enough to find themselves among the best teams in the country, but who simultaneously aren’t among the most competitive eight people in their own programs? How do you predict the performance of a team that, if they previously proved successful, will in all likelihood see their more competitive members stacked higher the next season? We tend to avoid putting B teams on our list at all, just for the fact that even if they’re known to be successful, they can’t be expected to be consistent. But if there’s a team that bucks that trend, it’s Patrick Henry B, the only B team present on our list the past two years. The past two years they’ve done well at Nationals (7th in 2021 and an Honorable mention in 2022). Yet the past two years, Patrick Henry B hasn’t made it out of Regionals. Yes, you read that right. Our 22nd ranked team hasn’t earned a bid to ORCS since 2020. While the members of the team were completely different, the result was pretty much the same; Patrick Henry B fails to earn a bid to ORCS, so Patrick Henry C goes instead and ends up going to Nationals—where they crush it. Usually, we’d talk about people to look out for, but as we talked about with Patrick Henry A, they graduated a majority of their team, so it's unclear who might fill those A team spots, who will fill the B team spots, and ultimately who might fill their C team spots. We don’t quite have the insider info to give you insight into Sue Johnson’s stacking process. But we can tell you to look at the award winners from PHC C and D from this past year, captain and All-Regional attorney Andrew Bleiler, All-Regional witness Jake Bell, All-National attorney Nathan York and All-American witness Clara Harney. This is a crazy young team to come out this high in our rankings, but it’s also a crazy talented team to have put up the record they’ve had in the past. We’re expecting big things from PHC B this year, as usual.

23) UC Santa Barbara A:
If you’ve followed teams on the West Coast, you know about the resurgence of UCSB. After their initial appearance at Nationals in 2018, they missed out the following two years. Fast forward a couple years later, and for the first time in program history, UCSB will be looking to make a third consecutive trip to the National Championship Tournament in 2023. But it won’t be an easy road. After graduating the foundation of their recent success in All-Regional Attorney Alex Pigeon, double threat and All-National witness Eli Tannenwald, and All-American and TBC competitor Madelyn Whalen, the Gauchos will need to rebuild quickly in order to get back to the top. Luckily for them, they have some incredible young talent to build around. We’ve seen glimpses of stardom from people like All-National Witness Priya Ravi and newly minted President and All-Regional witness Amruta Baradwaj. These two will be looking to join some of the powerhouses that still remain on this team. Returning to their team from Lancaster will be former Gladiator Hunter Wright, and former President and All-National Attorney Madison Thomas. And this team is rounded out by one of the most versatile competitors in the country in double threat and All-American witness Aleyna Young. Young hasn’t been caught slacking during this offseason either. Her time second chairing for Whalen at TBC and double-side attorney awarding at Rookie Rumble is enough evidence to prove she doesn’t have much rust to be shaking off when invites start this fall. The trick for this team will be putting all of the pieces in the right place to make this team as successful as possible. We know their A team competitors understand what it takes to go all the way, but their younger talent may need some polishing. Their B team secured a bid to the LA ORCS last year, but they didn’t do too hot once the battle for tickets to Lancaster started. If the last two years have shown us anything, it’s that this team has figured out a brand of mock trial that is consistently good enough to get out of the always difficult California ORCS. The next step for this team is proving that they can compete with the best of the best and place at NCT.

24) Ohio State A:
Once a formidable NCT top-five finisher, it’s hard to say exactly where Ohio State stands coming into the fall. On one hand, they excel as individual competitors. In Lancaster, attorney Sarah Paul, witness Gabby Dachtler, and all-star Tamara Joseph each earned All-Americans—the second consecutive All-American for Joseph and an additional accolade for routine-standouts Dachtler and Paul. With Paul’s tight, technical objections, Dachtler’s dynamic witness portrayals, and Joseph’s beloved, quirky characters, it’s no surprise these individuals rose to the top of the pack at NCT. But the consistent success of OSU’s top competitors hasn’t always translated to the success of the team as a whole. Over the past few years, Ohio State has experienced a gradient of results at higher-level tournaments. In 2019, they finished 5th at NCT, sweeping 2nd place division finisher Miami and accounting for the only 4 losses Miami would endure the entire weekend. Come 2021, they missed the podium entirely after well-fought rounds against big names like Duke and Berkeley. They saw a similar result again this year, missing a spot in the top 10 after some drops early on and a pairing against Yale in round 4. Make no mistake: this result was surprising, especially given their caliber of individual talent. Plus, while many teams in the country would shudder at the thought of that schedule, Ohio State is one of the few that has demonstrated its ability to beat the best of the best. So, here’s the question: will Ohio State be able to replicate its 2019-era success? Well, given the return of Tamara Joseph, the budding stardom of her sister Leora, and the roster of young OSU awardees ready to take AMTA by storm this year, we think it’s entirely possible. If you’ve been reading Mock Trial Confessions, then you know about the rising dynamic duo of Jonathan Hubbard and Drew Polito. Their performance at Rookie Rumble puts a lot of promise in the Buckeye’s future. A 3-5 performance at ORCS this last season means that OSU has some serious restructuring to do. Whether or not they can reclaim their past success is still in the air. But of course, only time will tell.  

25) Boston A:
Does invitational success matter? Boston thinks not. After cracking a winning record just once over the course of their invitational season and struggling at more competitive tournaments like Boston Tea Party and GCF, someone less versed in BUMTO’s history might be quick to dismiss them as early as February, let alone think they’d bid in March and April. But just as recent years would suggest, come hell, high water, or a freak double tie against Juniata, this team will always come through—earning bids to ORCS and NCT, along with a honorable mention as the cherry on top. Of course, there is some cause for concern: after graduating All-American attorneys Reva Bardhi and Sam Macriss, as well as 2021 All-Regional witness Iris Zheng, it’s likely that the core of this team will be less experienced and proven than their predecessors. However, graduating talent is nothing new to the Terriers: they’ve made Nationals every year since graduating TBC semifinalist Natalie Garson. There’s also more than just past years to prove their young core is ready to take the lead: rising junior and double threat Max Bearinger has quickly become one of the most decorated competitors in the country, snagging All-Regional attorney and All-National witness honors on his rise to Boston’s A team, and President Juliet Marhamati earned the title of All-Regional witness to complement her VP Lena Bardikjian’s All-Regional attorney award. But while it’s fair to say that while Boston’s got plenty of talent, they’ve yet to prove to be consistent against top competition. While BUMTO tended towards 4-4 at most invites this past season, their records were much closer to 2 or 3 wins at invites with a high number of Nationals teams. Indeed, even at ORCS, Boston A didn’t even hit an A bracket team, instead facing the Cornell/Bye-Buster team in their round three before starting their new “charity program”—yes that’s a real quote—with a dropped ballot against NYU B. This showed at Nationals, where the team went back and forth between 1 and 2 win splits against middle-tier NCT teams. With their A team graduating several key members, and a B team that was far more generous than their A team at ORCS (giving up ¾ of their ballots to finish 2-6), there are questions about whether or not the Terriers will step up to earn an even higher placement at Nationals, or if the loss of talent they’ve sustained over the past few years will take its toll. Either way, Boston has earned their spot on this list with consistent production in AMTA season, and it’s a spot they’ll keep unless they falter.

Individual Competitors to Watch 2022-23

We analyzed tab summaries from the past three seasons as well as compiled thoughts based on the rounds that each of our contributors have seen. From that analysis, we’ve crafted a list of accomplished individual competitors returning for the upcoming season that we think will perform particularly well. Some of these individuals made the list for taking an extraordinary number of awards this year, others may have taken fewer awards (particularly if they were overshadowed by someone who has now graduated), but based on our experiences with these individuals we think all of them will be standouts this year. Please let us know who we’ve missed—we’re certain we don’t have every elite competitor in the country on this list!

Mock Analysis is My Drug Preseason Predictions

Below, we’ve included our predictions for how some major events will turn out in the 2022-23 season. These are the result of a lot of discussion and debate among our contributors. As you would expect, and appropriate of the inherent subjectivity of mock trial, we weren’t able to reach a consensus on any of the questions. But the predictions below represent the majority opinion of our group. We’re particularly excited to revisit this list at the end of the year and see how we did! If you have other predictions like these feel free to share them.            

NCT Champion: Harvard

NCT Final Teams: Harvard & Yale

Most Likely for B Team to Outplace A Team: Patrick Henry

Most Likely to be Undefeated Through Regionals and ORCS: UCLA

Most Likely to Get Two Teams to NCT: Patrick Henry

GAMTI Champion: Duke

GCF Champion: Tufts

Best Attorney: Travis Harper, Harvard

Best Witness: Fatima Lawan, Tufts
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