During the awards ceremony in the Federal Building at 401 N. San Joaquin St., cheers rang out as Tracy students heard the announcement that their biggest competitor, Venture Academy, placed second in the competition.
Last year, Venture beat out Tracy, pushing the Bulldogs into second.
“We’ve gotten an incredible group of kids,” said Tracy co-coach Justin Nunn at the conclusion of the Saturday awards ceremony. “It’s a lot of stress and relief (hearing the announcement). We knew it would be close, us and Venture. When they called them, I knew we won.”
After three days of competition, the standout students who propelled Tracy to the top this year were juniors Katie Low, Chase Armada and Angela Mesgarzadeh, and senior Jennifer Kim. All four students received individual plaques from their coaches for their skills as prosecutors and defense lawyers in a fictional hit-and-run case.
“It’s exhilarating,” said Low, as she stood outside Courtroom 31 after Tracy completed its final round against Venture.
“It’s the best,” Low said. “A lot of us want to be lawyers. It’s always fun. You get to stand up and argue for a living — that’s so cool.”
Low was composed and animated as she moved about the courtroom for her closing arguments in front of a panel of competition judges that consisted of local attorneys.
Also winning an award from Tracy High School was Blake Lazar for first place in the journalism category.
Attorney John Casenave, who judged the Tracy-versus -Venture round, said he was so impressed with the Tracy team that he said a few students could be lawyers already.
“Those kids are great,” he said. “They’re all just great.”
The next step for Tracy High’s team will be the state Mock Trial competition on March 22 to 24 in Riverside. If they win, they will go to nationals on May 9 in Indianapolis, Ind.
Nunn, the coach, said the key to Tracy’s success was having 10 practice scrimmages.
“For us, this is a once-in-a-lifetime team,” he said. “They’re ready for state. We expect to do very well.”
Armada also looked forward with optimism following the ceremony that named her and her teammates winners.
“It feels good,” he said. “I think we’ll do wonderful (at state).”
Strong showings for West, Kimball
Also competing from Tracy this year was a team from West High School, which finished fourth and one from Kimball High School, which finished six, based on the announcement at the awards ceremony.
West High coach Shannon McMahon said the team was “amazing this year.”
One of the Wolf Pack stars was junior Jamie Temple, a four-year Mock Trial competitor who this year received individual honors, as did junior Judy Huang and seniors Anumita Kaur and Edgar Valadez.
“I love it,” Temple said. “It’s my last year, and this was one of the best days.”
Kimball coaches Erika Hillstead and Jessica Lenart said their team did well, considering it’s only the school’s third year of competition.
“They get stronger every year,” Hillstead said. “It’s cool to see the camaraderie.”
Kimball’s top performers were seniors Jamie Lam, Jai Kannan, sophomore Melita Vellian and junior Kimberly Diaz, each of which won individual recognition.
“My favorite part is the team bonding,” Diaz said. “Now we’re more competitive, more experienced and more professional.”
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.