Clovis High School senior Beverly Reynolds, an attorney for the mock trial team, gives opening statements at an exhibition against area lawyers on March 13. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.
By Ryan Lengerich
Clovis High School has put its stamp on a competition dominated by Albuquerque schools.
The CHS mock trial team placed second last weekend at the 16-team state competition in Albuquerque. Team sponsor Therese Pacheco said this was the school’s best finish.
“It was a heartbreaker and there were a lot of tears but we realized we were the best Clovis team in history,” Pacheco said. “We were just another little school going into Albuquerque and I think this outcome has given Clovis a lot of respect and put us on the map.”
Cibola High School took first place. In all, eight of the 16 teams at the competition were Albuquerque-based schools including five of the top six — Clovis being the other. CHS was the only eastern New Mexico school to compete.
“They were looking for us to come up there and get close to last place,” senior Scot Smith said. “I guess they learned something this time.”
Pacheco said advantages for Albuquerque schools include strong coaching by attorneys in the area and less need for students to raise funds for traveling expenses. Competition judges often know the Albuquerque competitors by first name from seeing them in past years, she said.
Pacheco credited area lawyers’ help for this year’s success. The team competed against local lawyers Randall Harris, Matt Chandler and Tye Harmon in an exhibition prior to state competition.
Smith and junior Amber Thompson received “outstanding witness” awards making CHS the only school to receive two such awards. Senior Beverly Reynolds earned an “outstanding attorney” award.
Reynolds said performing at the state level did not add extra pressure.
“I think I handled it better than usual because I owed it to my team to do well,” said Reynolds, who is considering attending the University of California at Los Angeles next year. “I took my time in saying things. Usually I talk too fast — I just took my time so I think that gives you power over people.”
The competition consisted of four head-to-head rounds in which three judges score the performances similar to a boxing match to determine a winner. The results are scored but not announced until the competition has concluded.
Cibola defeated Clovis in the championship round 278-274.
“It all comes down to who knows the rules the best,” Smith said. “It was very close and I thought we did a better job.”
Five of the eight Clovis-team members were seniors and four had three years’ experience. The others were first-year members, Pacheco said.
“Next year we now have that target on our back and we are the team to beat,” Pacheco said. “I don’t think there is pressure other than on myself.”