On March 26, the GPS Mock Trial A (Pothos) and B (Calathea) teams competed at the state tournament in Nashville, with last year’s state title to defend. And while they didn’t walk away with a team trophy this time, they did leave an impression on the competition. GPS A team placed fifth among 14 teams
and GPS B team placed 10th among the best of the best in the state; in Hamilton County alone, 24 teams competed for a chance at state. The only ballot that the state winner, Montgomery Bell Academy Red, lost to was GPS A.
After an initial round, the scoring system then sorts teams by power matching for the following three rounds, with the goal to have the two strongest teams go head-to-head in the final. For three of their four rounds, GPS A faced Montgomery Bell teams. Last year, GPS A team beat Montgomery Bell in the final round for the state title. This year Montgomery Bell Red (their A team) beat Agathos Classical School (two-time state champs and national champ) in the final round for the state title.
This year’s competition featured a criminal case compared to last year’s civil trial, a difficult challenge for the state side, which our A team represented three of four rounds. GPS B team also faced Montgomery Bell twice, indicating that both GPS teams were ranked high in the competition. “All of our rounds with Montgomery Bell were very close,” said GPS Mock Trial coach Tammy Combs, AUSA.
Walking away from the weekend with a distinguished honor was GPS senior and member of the A team Lauren Thacker, who won the Robert Horton Campbell Award. Given each year at the state level, it’s awarded to the single highest-ranked Plaintiff/Prosecution attorney. The award is named for Campbell, a former Tennessee Mock Trial competitor from Chattanooga, who was killed in a convenience store robbery his senior year in 1991, not long after the state Mock Trial competitions had ended. The first recipient of the award was a Montgomery Bell student in 1993; it was later awarded to one of MBA’s current coaches, Tracy Hancock. Gary Humble, a retired assistant U.S. Attorney from Chattanooga and Campbell’s former Mock Trial coach, presented the first award.
Following the competition, Coach Combs reached out to congratulate Montgomery Bell Academy, an independent all-boys school in Nashville, with well wishes to their coaches for their journey to nationals. Their coach, MBA alumni Wade Cowan, a Nashville attorney, responded with his praise for GPS’s performances. “You should be very proud (again) of the work of your teams, and especially proud of Lauren Thacker's performance and her winning the Robert Horton Campbell Award,” he wrote. “You all were extremely tough competition …. We'll do our best to make Tennessee shine and we very much appreciate your kind words and offer of support.”
Zachary R. Walden, Esq., Vice Chair Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Committee, commended all of the competitors. “I heard nothing but positive comments about your students throughout the competition. This truly was one of the closest competitions in my years of working with this program, and every team should walk away feeling proud.”
The three GPS Mock Trial Teams and their coaches, Tammy Combs and Judge Brian House, put in countless hours preparing for competition. Please congratulate them for their success and hard work. Mock Trial is sponsored by Dr. Steve Harrison, GPS history teacher.