AAHS wins state mock trial title

The Altoona Area mock trial team is the state champion. The team won two trials on Friday and two more trials on Saturday to secure the title.

Altoona Area defeated Philadelphia Roman Catholic High School in the Championship Trial at the Dauphin County Courthouse. A supreme court justice presided.

“All of our hard work paid off,” senior Blanca Gates said. The team had begun its season in October, competing against local teams.

The Altoona team advances to the national mock trial competition April 8 and 9 at the University of Wisconsin.

Three of the team’s members, Jacob Foose and Rachel McIntosh and Gates, are seniors.

The mock trials centered on whether a private school was liable in a case involving the death of a high school track athlete who abused performance-enhancing drugs.

Teams’ attorneys must be prepared to represent the defendant (the school) or the plaintiff (the girl’s mother) during a trial.

Witnesses must think quickly and deliver impromptu responses to the opposing teams’ attorneys.

The victory was overwhelming for Foose, an attorney for the team.

“I really don’t have anything to compare this amount of success to,” Foose said. “I can’t say anything really topped this. I’m so lucky to be on a team like this.”

McIntosh delivered a strong closing argument to seal the victory on Saturday.

“I gave my best delivery this time, and I couldn’t be happier that it was for the state title,” she said. “I’m glad I was able to pull through for the team.”

Younger members of the team, Juan Gil, Haley Walker, Michael Scott and Haley Smith said they are prepared for the national competition and look forward to defending their state title next year.

“Today was our best performance of the season. It was a unique opportunity for me being one of the younger members of the team,” Scott said. “I think this is the start of a dynasty. I hope we can keep winning at states.”

Walker was in the role of a key witness for the team. She played the best friend of the girl who abused the drugs. “It was incredible. It was interesting to see all of the different angles. They did very well too. It’s overwhelming.”

Haley Smith, a junior who was the team’s time keeper on Saturday, said she is looking forward to April.

“We are ready for Wisconsin,” she said.