Gladiator World Championship 2020

Written by Ethan Yan, a Menlo ’20 graduate and current Freshman at Yale University.

On July 24-26, 2020, a small group of Menlo Mock Trialers competed at the 6th Annual Gladiator 1-on-1 Mock Trial World Championship. This highly demanding individual competition requires students to perform as a witness and attorney on both the Prosecution and Defense, with only three weeks to prepare. This year’s tournament revolved around a fictional criminal case based on the documentary Tiger King. Although the competitors were unable to travel to Southern California due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zoom-based trials did introduce new aspects to the competition.

For starters, MMT’s two competitors, Meredith Fenyo ‘20 and Madeline Levin ’21, were assisted by co-counsels Maya Julian-Kwong ‘22 and Jackson Kunde ‘21, respectively. Maya and Jackson were responsible for displaying demonstrative aids and exhibits—including videos not normally seen during Gladiator competitions.

Amongst a reduced and thus even more competitive field, Meredith and Madeline made their mark. In her first ever competitive round as a witness, Meredith won all four of her ballots by a 3-0 margin while portraying FBI Agent Steph Branham, becoming the only competitor to perfect score any round in the entire competition. She followed up this astounding start with three strong performances—including a 5-2 victory on average as a Defense attorney—to secure a spot in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Madeline won all four of her preliminary rounds—including a 6.2-0.8 victory on average as a Prosecution attorney. Her strong performances not only gave her the top seed heading into semi-finals, but also earned her recognition for the top opening statements (in a seven-way tie) and best objections (in a two-way tie).

While MMT had a strong record at prior Gladiator competitions—including victories by Andy Parker in 2016 and Tiffany Tam in 2018—this year marked the first time that two MMT competitors had advanced to the semi-finals. Incidentally, the two former co-counsel faced each other, with Madeline advancing to the finals and finishing as the runner-up in a close final round against Ethan Marx from Indian Hill High School, Ohio.

The Menlo Mock Trial Program could not be prouder of both Meredith and Madeline for their incredibly impressive performances. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to their preparation: Maya and Jackson for their hard work and support; MMT Coach Liz Grant for her immense dedication and countless hours of guidance; and members of the Stanford and Menlo Mock Trial teams who provided valuable feedback during the intense preparation period.

We wish both Meredith and Madeline the best of luck in their upcoming Mock Trial endeavors, confident in their futures and proud to have them representing our team.

2020 MVP Award: Meredith Fenyo

This tribute to Senior Meredith Fenyo was written by Ethan Yan, 2019 MVP Award recipient

Although the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly ended the 2019-20 Menlo Mock Trial season, the team gathered virtually at the end of May to celebrate the year. This season, the Varsity team collected championships at the 2019 Providence Cup, 2020 NorCal Mock Trial Invitational, and 2020 County tournament, while the Junior Varsity team—led for the first time by William Kwong and Kathy Julian—had impressive performances at NorCal (12th) and County (2nd). After tributes to the coaches and seniors, the celebration concluded with the announcement of the 2020 Chris Lagod MVP Award winner: Meredith Fenyo.

After an illustrious four-year career, Meredith occupies rarefied air amidst a long history of distinguished MMT team members. While on the Junior Varsity team—first as a Defense middle trial attorney and later as a Prosecution pre-trial attorney—she won two County titles and impressed with her delivery of short, incisive cross-examinations, command of legal terminologies and caselaw, and sophisticated understanding of the pertinent concepts. As a sophomore, she also made her debut on the Varsity team, serving as the unofficial timer at States. After becoming a Varsity trial attorney the following year, Meredith became the second Junior to win a Trial Attorney Certificate at the County competition (after Kate Park in 2013) and the first Junior to double as a trial attorney at States, leading the Defense team to victory in the State Finals. To cap off the season, she closed at the National Championships, receiving a Star Attorney award from an opposing team in the process.

Although cut short, her senior season was even more impressive. She was the Defense closer throughout the year, becoming the second MMTer to do so in back-to-back years (after Mary Hanley in 2009-11). Following a winning performance at the Providence Cup, Meredith once again helped deliver a NorCal victory, securing an honorable mention attorney award in the process. On the way to defending MMT’s County title in 2020, Meredith’s Round 2 performance was one of the most dominant in MMT history. She became only the second MMT trial attorney (after Tiffany Tam in 2018) to receive perfect scores of 10 from both scorers for all of her performances: two cross examinations, one direct examination, and one closing argument. All in all, during Meredith’s tenure as a Varsity trial attorney, MMT won two NorCal titles, two County titles, one State title, and one Providence title. Furthermore, Meredith graduates with a perfect 25-0 record as a CRF Defense closer, the best record in the history of MMT trial attorneys!

Yet if there is anything more impressive than Meredith’s aforementioned achievements, it is the way in which she went about them; Meredith’s MMT career was defined as much by perseverance and determination as it was by victory. She first became a closing attorney less than one week before the 2019 NorCal tournament, learning new examinations and a closing argument when sickness forced a roster reshuffle. Not to be outdone, she then succumbed to illness herself a day before NorCals in 2020. Despite being far from 100%, Meredith still helped secure a team title and won an individual accolade. But more than these anecdotes, Meredith has been the consummate team member, role model, and leader. She inspires others with her constant desire to improve, mastery of the rules of evidence, remarkable extemporaneity, rhetorical flair, and most of all, her selfless dedication to her teammates.

The Menlo Mock Trial Program could not be prouder of Meredith for winning the 2020 MVP award and would like to offer our immense congratulations to her. We are grateful for all she has contributed to the team and wish her well this summer at Gladiator and in all of her future endeavors.

County 2020 Results

On February 13, Menlo’s Varsity and JV teams headed into the Redwood City courthouse to compete in their respective County championship rounds. 

The JV team put up a great fight against Hillsdale’s JV team, coming short of the Championship title by just a few points. Placing 2nd in San Mateo County against the defending JV Champions is a huge feat for Menlo’s JV team. With no JV team for the 2018-2019 season, every single individual on Menlo’s 2019-2020 team was a first year mock trialer! 

In the nearby courtrooms, the Varsity team played Notre Dame Belmont. After a great two rounds where Menlo swept all 8 of the scoring ballots, Menlo was named the San Mateo County Champions for the tenth year in a row. In addition to earning them the County title, MMT’s prosecution and defense victories in the championship round marked the team’s 100th straight County win, a streak started during the 2010-2011 season. 

Of note, Menlo also won their first “Courtroom Artist” title this year with sophomore Grace Tang taking 2nd place!  

Pictured: Menlo Mock Trial’s Varsity team after winning their 10th consecutive San Mateo County championship title in February, 2020.

After the County competition, MMT began their rigorous preparations for the State tournament scheduled for March 19-22 in Los Angeles. However, due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, the Constitutional Rights Foundation made the difficult decision on March 11 to cancel the State tournament for the safety of the competitors, their families, and the volunteers. The governing body of the National High School Mock Trial competition quickly followed suit, cancelling the 2020 Nationals scheduled for early May in Indiana. 

While MMT is disappointed that they will not be able to defend their State title this year, Menlo still had a fabulous season with their Varsity team going undefeated (5-0 at Providence, 10-0 at Norcals, 10-0 at County). And, to end on an even better note, what this also means is that MMT is the reigning California State Champion for (at least) another full year!  

Until next season…

NorCal Invitational 2020

In mid-January, Menlo Mock Trial took the 10th Annual NorCal Mock Trial Invitational by storm with the Varsity team winning the Championship title and the JV team placing 12th overall!

Both the Varsity and JV teams played five great rounds against many of the top teams in California to kick off the CRF competition season. In addition to their team victories, MMT also racked up many individual awards across the Varsity and JV teams. 

  • Pre-Trial awards: Ethan Yan (Varsity, 1st, Prosecution), Diya Baliga (Varsity, 1st, Defense), Helen Barkley (JV, 2nd, Defense), Alex Levitt (JV, 3rd, Prosecution). This is the first time in Menlo history that 4 pre-trialers have won awards. It is also the first time since 2013 that MMT’s Varsity pre-trialers have placed first on both sides, and the first time in Menlo history that the JV team has won a pre-trial award on both sides. 
  • Trial Attorney awards: Madeline Levin (Varsity, 3rd, Prosecution), Meredith Fenyo (Varsity, Honorable Mention, Defense), Leo Jergovic (Varsity, Honorable Mention, Defense), Abby Becker (JV, Honorable Mention, Defense), Penelope Stinson (JV, Honorable Mention, Prosecution). 
  • Witness awards: Mackenzie Ford (Varsity, 1st, Desi Kunstler), Emma McGaraghan (Varsity, 1st, Val Glick), Olivia Velten-Lomelin (Varsity, 2nd, Detective Micah Eisenberg), Alea Marks (JV, 1st, Dr. Jules Jackson), Tessa Frantz (JV, 2nd, Val Glick). Menlo’s Varsity team also won the highest ranking Prosecution witness team award (Mackenzie Ford, Olivia Velten-Lomelin, Annabelle Marenghi, and Libby Eggemeier) and the highest ranking Defense witness team award (Jacob Halabe, Meera Rajagopal, William Akis, Emma McGaraghan, and Mara Lebovitz). Finally, senior Emma McGaraghan made NorCal history in becoming the first witness ever to get 46/50 possible ranks, surpassing the previous record set by junior Mack Ford in 2019 for 43/50 ranks. 

After a successful NorCal tournament, both the Varsity and JV teams geared up for their County competitions later in the month. 

To close, Menlo Mock Trial would like to say a huge thank you to Stanford Mock Trial for co-hosting the Norcal tournament this year and, more specifically, to Thom Scher for doing a phenomenal job running the tournament. 

Pictured: Menlo Mock Trial’s Varsity team after winning their 3rd consecutive NorCal championship title in January, 2020.

Providence Cup Champions 2019

On October 17th, MMT travelled to Denver, Colorado for the annual Providence Cup and returned with the first place trophy! It was Menlo’s 8th year at the tournament and 6th victory.

The Providence pre-season tournament gives students an opportunity to argue historical cases. This year, the case was modeled off of the infamous Lindenberg baby kidnapping of the 1930s. Eight experienced Menlo Mock Trial members, all of whom travelled to Georgia for the National Championship in May last season, performed at Providence.

MMT played teams from across the country over the weekend. After two rounds on Friday and two rounds on Saturday, Menlo was announced as one of the finalists on Saturday evening. After a challenging final round against a team from Colorado, Menlo ultimately left victorious.

Now MMT is preparing the case of People vs. Bailey Matsumoto for the first trip of the main season to Sacramento.

The 2019 Providence Team after the awards ceremony on Saturday 10/19

Ethan Yan wins 2019 Chris Lagod MVP Award

Every year, the team and coaches vote on an MVP. The award is named in honor of Chris Lagod, the founder of the program. Former recipients include Andy Parker (2015), Annie Kim (2016), Colton Conley (2017), and Tiffany Tam (2018). This year’s winner is Ethan Yan.

Ethan Yan made his mock trial debut Freshman year as a varsity pretrial attorney for the prosecution. For both the 2018 and 2019 season, he was Menlo’s starting varsity pretrial attorney for the People. Despite only being a junior, Ethan Yan already has five awards in his name. At the Norcal competition over the past three years, he has received two 3rd place pretrialing awards (2017 and 2018) and one Honorable Mention for pretrialing (2019). At the County level, Ethan received an Honorable Mention for his pretrial performance in 2018, and in 2019, Ethan received a plaque for best pre-trial attorney in the County! At the 2019 Norcal competition in which MMT got 1st place, Ethan’s (along with varsity Defense pretrialer Ashli Jain’s) point contribution from their pretrial performance made the difference between winning and losing the Championship round.

In addition to his fantastic pretrialing skills and exquisite mastery of all pertinent Supreme Court cases from the past three CRF case packets,  Ethan also dipped his feet into the trial attorney side of mock trial at the 2019 National Competition in Athens, Georgia. Ethan middled on both sides, directing and crossing both experts.

MMT would like to offer a huge congratulations to our 2019 MVP, Ethan Yan, and cannot wait to see what is in store for him next season!

2019 National Championship Results

After winning the State Championship in late March, MMT headed off to the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Athens, Georgia. Teams from all over the country, in addition to teams from South Korea, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, gathered in the UGA college town for a two-day long intensive mock trial tournament consisting of four scored rounds of competition. Unlike the County and State competitions where the festivities are limited to merely mock-trial related ones, the National Competition gives participating students many opportunities to engage with both each other and the case history itself. Students were able to participate in a pin-exchange, a Law Day hosted by the University of Georgia’s law school, and a night at the Georgia Theatre–one of the historical elements in the 2019 Nationals case.

At the National Competition, Menlo students participated in three scrimmage rounds–against Ohio, South Korea, and Mississippi–before starting the scored rounds. On the first day of competition, MMT played Florida in the first round and Nevada in the second round. On day two, MMT played Hawaii in the first round and Missouri in the second round. Menlo went 2-2, placing 22nd in the nation.

The National Competition marks the end of a fantastic season for MMT, who went undefeated through every round of Norcals, County, and States. Additionally, 2019 was the second year in all of Menlo Mock Trial history for Menlo to go to the National Competition. Can we make 2020 our third?

2019 State Champions

Menlo left for the Constitutional Rights Foundation State Championship as Team San Mateo and returned as Team California.

Last weekend, Menlo had the pleasure of playing some of the best teams in the state in four preliminary rounds (including NorCal competitors Prospect and Venture Academy). Late Saturday night, Menlo was called as one of the finalists, along with Shasta High School, 3x championship round contender. After a grueling trial, Menlo ultimately left victorious.

This 2018-2019 team is the first in Menlo Mock Trial history to go undefeated at every scored round of competition through March (this includes the NorCal, County, and State tournaments).

In May, Menlo will represent California at the National Mock Trial Competition in Athens, Georgia. Team USA?

The 2018-2019 MMT full team sporting gold metals at the CA State Championship Awards Ceremony 🙂

2018-2019 Update Pre-CA State Competition

The 2018-2019 season has been a year of overcoming adversity for Menlo Mock Trial. In May of 2018, Thom Scher resigned as head coach after a decade of working with the team. He is now the coach of Stanford Mock Trial, and just last year, led the team to a 3rd place victory at the national collegiate mock trial competition. Along with Thom, MMT’s 3 JV coaches resigned, along with 2 varsity coaches. Tracy Tefertiller, who has worked with MMT’s pretrial team for four years, stepped in as head coach.

In August, after a weekend of tryouts, 30 students were chosen for the JV and Varsity teams. After a number of scrimmages both internally and with Stanford Mock Trial, MMT traveled to Sacramento to scrimmage several of California’s top teams. Apart from a team-wide bout of food poisoning, this tournament was a success! Menlo then went into a 2-week long break filled with Tracy Tefertiller’s version of holiday fun (checkboxes and NorCal prep)!

Next up, NorCals. Former coach Thom Scher came back to run this annual, highly selective invitational tournament, hosted by Menlo and Trinity Pacific. Despite close competition and top-notch teams, Menlo defended their title as NorCal champions! Only a week later, the team hopped onto a 6-hour bus ride to sunny Santa Barbara. The annual tournament is held in the beautiful historic Santa Barbara courthouse where MMT had the chance to scrimmage a number of high ranked teams from Southern California and prepare for the county competition.

Just 4 days after returning, MMT entered into the Redwood City Courthouse for the first time in a year, ready to defend the title of County Champions. After 3 weeks of grueling competition with local teams (and a number of bad coughs and high fevers), Menlo made it to semis and just 2 days later stepped into the final round against Hillsdale. Menlo swept both semis and finals (6-0, 8-0). MMT is again the County Champions with a 90-0 win streak over the past 9 years!

Now Menlo is heading to the state competition in Sacramento. Wish us luck! 🙂

Tiffany Tam wins Chris Lagod MVP Award

Every year, the team and coaches vote on an MVP. The award is named in honor of Chris Lagod, the founder of the program. Former recipients include Andy Parker (2015), Annie Kim (2016), and Colton Conley (2017). This year’s winner, in a field with more nominated candidates than ever before, is senior Tiffany Tam.

Tiffany finishes her Menlo Mock Trial career as the single-most-awarded competitor to ever represent MMT, with the second-most cases representing MMT, and with one of the most dominant senior seasons of any competitor. She was on teams that won 2 Providence Titles, 1 NorCal Title, and 4 County Titles (a perfect 40-0); her teams ranked at the State Championship in 3/4 years.

As a freshman, Tiffany began as a Junior Varsity Opening Attorney, for which she won a NorCal Honorable Mention Award, and then performed as the Unofficial Timer on the 2015 State Team. As a sophomore, Tiffany was a Varsity Middle Attorney on the 2016 State Team, which made the final round. As a junior, Tiffany became only the fourth competitor for Menlo to earn the CRF Closing Attorney role before her senior year; she again earned Honorable Mention status at NorCal, then Honorable Mention status at County, and then Honorable Mention status at the Gladiator World Championships. In her Senior Season, Tiffany repeated as Prosecution Closer, where she received a 2nd place individual award at NorCal, a 1st Place County Award, and will again head to the Gladiator World Championships this summer. She performed as Prosecution Closer and Defense Opener for the State Championships.

Tiffany’s Senior County Performance was remarkably dominant, earning her the most award nominations of any competitor, for any role, in the history of San Mateo County. She also earned Menlo’s first individually perfect scored round of the 10-point era, and first ever perfect score for a trial attorney (County R1, 3 exams + closing, all 10/10). Tiffany hopes to continue mock trial for NYU come fall.