Wooster’s Moot Court Team Excels at Nationals, Combining for 10 All-American Honors

Despite coaching change, team remains at an elite level

January 23, 2017   /  

WOOSTER, Ohio – The College of Wooster was one of three schools in the country to advance two teams to the round of 16 of the oral advocacy championship bracket, and it collected 10 All-American citations in all at the American Moot Court Association National Championship Tournament, hosted by Stetson University in Gulfport, Fla., earlier this month.

In the premier competition – the team partnerships – Wooster stood out, as Hannah Buzolits ’17 and Coral Ciupak ’19 and Jordan Griffith ’19 and Cami Steckbeck ’19 both won two rounds on their way to the “Sweet 16.” Notable, the Buzolits-Ciupak tandem defeated the defending national champions from Patrick Henry College, all the more impressive considering the Wooster team had not worked together at the regional competition (Ciupak had partnered with Shelley Grostefon ‘18, who is now studying abroad).

hannah and coral
Hannah Buzolits ’17 (left) and Coral Ciupak ’19 (right)

The Buzolits-Ciupak and Griffith-Steckbeck pairings earned All-American recognition, as did Jack Johanning ’17 and Marie Sheehan ’17. They won their opener to reach the round of 32 before dropping a split decision.

Wooster students excelled in other AMCA events, too. Dawson Honey ’19 and Brianna Schmidt ’20 teamed up for third-place honors in the national brief writing competition (respondent category), and Johanning and Griffith each garnered a second All-American accolade by grading out 13th and 14th, respectively, of the 160 individual orators.

“I count this a very good season on its own terms, but all the more so given that this was Desiree Weber’s first year ever coaching moot court (following the retirement of long-time coach Mark Weaver),” stated John Rudisill, chair of Wooster’s department of philosophy. “Much credit goes to the team for their being so good at helping Desiree to understand moot court and the way in which the team has prepared in the past while also being very properly responsive to Desiree’s own personal coaching approach.”

“The students on the team are highly motivated and put in many hours to hone their analytical thinking and speaking skills,” Weber added. “The results that we have achieved … bear out their hard work.”

Cami Steckbeck and Jordan Griffith

Cami Steckbeck ’19 (left) and Jordan Griffith ’19 (right)

Wooster had a fifth team at the AMCA national tourney in the form of Maha Rashid ’19 and Brad Van Tyne ’17, and Rudisill firmly believes that this tradition-rich program will remain at an elite level. “Out of the 10 students who were with us as national qualifiers, five are sophomores and one is a first-year student. We have had a great year and are very optimistic about much more success from these students in the coming years.”

The five partnerships qualified for nationals via their performances at various regional tournaments in November and December. Among the highlights from those events, Rashid was the top individual orator (first-place of 40) at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, the Griffith-Steckbeck team finishing runner-up (of 38 partnerships) and Buzolits placing fourth individually (of 76 orators) at  Saginaw Valley State University’s regional, and Wooster serving as a host site for the Midwest regional on Nov. 18-19.

Moot court competitions simulate legal argumentation before hypothetical appellate courts, including actual U.S. Supreme Court cases. Previously opportunities were limited to the law school environment, however, the goal of the AMCA is to create a system of top-quality undergraduate moot court competitions.