By David Halbrook; pictures by Lynette Herbert and Art Cox
Patrick Henry College
Partners Jenna Lorence (L) and Rachel Heflin (R) with championship plaques
Last year’s national third-place team of PHC students James Mieding and Robert Kelly also captured 2010’s third place trophy, January 16, at the Florida International University College of Law in Miami, Florida. The duo may have finished even higher had they not had to duel Heflin-Lorence in the semi-finals.
“In their PHC careers, Robert and James have never lost a round in a moot court competition except to a PHC team,” observed an elated Dr. Michael Farris, PHC’s moot court coach, chancellor, and founder. “As it was, we had two teams in the round of eight and advanced more teams at each stage than any other college.
“The competition in Miami was incredibly rigorous, and keeps getting stronger each year,” he added. But, as he told a packed and cheering crowd of students at Monday’s chapel, “This little College in Virginia has amassed a tremendous track record.”
PHC's national moot court delegation and its many awards
The College also won national Brief Writing titles, as the team of Kelly and Mieding won First Petitioner Brief, while Rachel Blum and Paul Sellers earned First Respondent Brief. PHC had six students qualify as well in the top 20 Individual Speaker Awards, with Kelly placing second and Mieding capturing fifth place, as well as Jenna Lorence (11th place), Levi Swank (12th), Joseph Alm (13th place), and Zachary Enos (19th place).
Assessing Heflin’s remarkable performance in Miami, Dr. Farris attempted to describe the qualities that have now earned Rachel Heflin two collegiate moot court titles to go with her national championship trophy in high school debate.
“First of all, her speaking style is as smooth as silk,” he said. “She has a nimble ability to think quickly on her feet while giving a practiced, though not mechanical, response.”
Added Mieding, who faced Heflin-Lorence in the semifinals: “Rachel is effectively flawless when she speaks, and maintains a perfect connection with the judges. Typically, [the judges] fire questions at you at every stage, but it’s almost as if they don’t want to interrupt her.”
James Mieding (L) and Robert Kelly (R) with semi-finalist plaques
As for their own exemplary legacy at PHC, the teammates say they are indescribably humbled and blessed, citing moot court competition for allowing them to fully realize their dependency on God while demanding that they push themselves toward an ever-extending standard of excellence.
“It has really stressed my reliance on God,” said Mieding, “and redefined what it means to give my best effort.”
“Coaches Farris and Guliuzza have taught us to push ourselves toward excellence,” added Kelly, “and to discover that when we think we have nothing left to give, there’s still one gear left to try.”
PHC moot court assistant coach, Dr. Frank Guliuzza, agreed that the competition rose to another level in Miami and noted how impressed he was with the entire team’s unity and spirit.
PHC moot court coach and College Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris announces the championship win in PHC chapel, Monday morning
Beyond championships and trophies, Dr. Farris sees a potentially far greater impact in the warm, respectful relationships forged with other schools and competitors at ACMA events in recent years.
“Our goal is not simply to win a national tournament,” concluded Dr. Farris, “but to carry Christ and His message into everything that we do. Doing your best in a moot court round is simply the foundation for serving Christ to the best of your ability in the future.”
Final Team Results: