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Home > PHC Wins Fourth Moot Court Championship

PHC Wins Fourth Moot Court Championship

January 18th, 2010

By David Halbrook; pictures by Lynette Herbert and Art Cox

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

Partners Jenna Lorence (L) and Rachel Heflin (R) with championship plaques

For the fourth time in six years, Patrick Henry College has won the ACMA National Moot Court Championship. The team of Rachel Heflin and Jenna Lorence beat a team from Baylor University, giving Heflin back-to-back titles and making her the tournament’s only two-time champion. Heflin won last year’s 2009 ACMA (American Collegiate Moot Court Association) National Championship with partner Aidan Grano.

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

To date, no other college or university has won more than one ACMA national championship. Among the other teams competing in Miami were Harvard and Syracuse University, Holy Cross, the College of Wooster (2008 ACMA Champion), and Fitchburg State College. In all, PHC sent the maximum number of eight teams to the 64-team competition and placed first, third, ninth, 11th, 13th and 17th.

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

“She is simply eloquent,” noted Kelly, “with just the right measure of passion. As modest as she is, I’d say she is probably the best moot courter in the country.”

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

“Last year’s group, which had such an outstanding showing, came back pretty much intact this year,” he said. “Sometimes the hunger that fueled a championship can, with other commitments and busyness, wane, so it was necessary to get that fire in the belly back. When necessary, during finals, our teams were able to do that. We dealt with some adversity in the early rounds, but our squad rallied around our two remaining teams, and they dug deep to pull it out.  To me, this is a ‘PHC-squad’ championship.”

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:

  • Jenna Lorence and Rachel Heflin – 1st place
  • James Mieding and Robert Kelly – 3rd place
  • Aidan Grano and Ben Sayre – 9th place
  • Aaron and Joshua Kamakawiwoole – 11th place
  • Krystal Brunner and Levi Swank – 13th place
  • Joseph Alm and Brianna Edelblut - 17th place
  • Mackenzie Siebert and Zachary Enos
  • James Barta and Andrew Hull

Brief Awards:

  • 1st Petitioner Brief: James Mieding and Robert Kelly
  • 1st Respondent Brief: Rachel Blum and Paul Sellers
  • 2nd Petitioner Brief: Joseph Alm and Brianna Edelblut
  • 3rd Petitioner Brief: Krystal Brunner and Levi Swank
  • 4th Petitioner Brief: Anna Accomazzo and John Miller

Speaker Awards:

  • Robert Kelly – 2nd Place
  • James Mieding – 5th Place
  • Jenna Lorence – 11th Place
  • Levi Swank – 12th Place
  • Joseph Alm – 13th Place
  • Zachary Enos – 19th Place

Previous stories:

PHC Wins Third National Championship in Five Years

PHC Defends National Championship

PHC Wins 2005 National Championship

PHC Beats Oxford