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Home > Moot Court Team Eyes Chance at Nationals Three-Peat

Moot Court Team Eyes Chance at Nationals Three-Peat

December 21st, 2010

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722

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PHC alumni Jenna Lorence and Rachel Heflin, 2010 ACMA national champions

The Patrick Henry College campus has settled quietly into the holidays, its student body finished with finals and back home for Christmas break. But across the country, sixteen PHC students remain poised at high alert. They no doubt are spending hours a day finalizing preparations for the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) national championship, January 14-15, in New Orleans.

Confronted with the prospect of winning the College’s fifth ACMA championship in the past seven years -- and its third in a row -- team members remain cautiously optimistic. All but one of this year’s eight, two-person team entries have already placed either first or second at regional qualifying tournaments.

“Since PHC has won all four regionals that we entered, and since we have won the last two national titles, everyone will be gunning for us,” notes PHC Chancellor and moot court coach Dr. Michael Farris. “The team has undergone a great deal of turnover since last year, due to graduation. Yet the fact that newer students could get ready to compete so quickly is a tribute to the strength of our core curriculum, and to the parents who sent us such well-prepared students.”

Throughout the fall, in fact, Dr. Farris and moot court co-coach Dr. Frank Guliuzza have been careful to term this a “building season.” And while all are certainly pleased with the team’s performance heading into nationals, no one, least of all many of PHC’s relatively untested young moot competitors, assumed success was inevitable.

Coming into the outrounds of regionals in Fitchburg, MA this fall, for example, junior Shannon Healy and sophomore Andrew Ferguson ranked dead last among the final competitors -- seeded 32nd. By the end of the tournament they had knocked out the first- and second-seed teams as well as two others, and stood alongside PHC teammates and tournament winners Alan Carrillo and Aaron Kamakawiwoole as second-place finishers.

“Looking at our position from a purely human standpoint after the first day, it looked hopeless,” marvels Ferguson. “It was God’s way of saying He was in control of this tournament, not us. That assurance was the most satisfying element of our tournament at Fitchburg.”

PHC's 2010 ACMA Nationals competitors and their coaches

Freshmen Kayla Griesemer and Blake Meadows, likewise, did not plan to win the first regional tournament on the calendar. Although Griesemer did win second place in Lincoln-Douglas (individual) debate in the 2009 National Christian Forensics and Communication Association national tournament in high school, she only hoped to achieve a place on Dr. Farris’s moot court team her first year in college. The best part, she said, was that “everyone on the PHC team was so encouraging.

“Everyone was exchanging notes and helping each other succeed for the school,” she smiled. “This whole thing has been a surprise.”


Griesemer and Meadows took Psalms 37:5 as their theme verse: “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

“We’re excited [about Nationals],” adds Griesemer. “We don’t know what to expect, but it sure will be fun.”

Repeating a pattern that has become commonplace in recent years, PHC qualified far more than the allowed eight teams for nationals in New Orleans, maintaining its standard of excellence in an ACMA league that has added new and larger colleges and universities and witnessed ever-improving competition. Drs. Farris and Guliuzza are sending seven teams that placed first or second in regional competition, as well as a team of high-achieving upperclassmen. One qualifying team member, Alan Carrillo, relinquished his spot to sophomore JC Cartee, thanks to a welcome internship with the International Justice Mission.

“We want to go, compete well in a way that pleases the Lord and represents our school -- and sure, we’d like to win,” states Dr. Guliuzza.

The ACMA national tournament will run January 14-15 at Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, Louisiana.

PHC competitors:

Kayla Griesemer/Blake Meadows
Tait Deems/Bridget Degnan
Aaron Kamakawiwoole/JC Cartee
Shannon Healy/Andrew Ferguson
Jonathan Carden/Joanna Griffith
Alex Harris/Brett Harris
Logan Spena/Adam Fisher
Noah Oberlander/Mackenzi Siebert