The Verdict is In

Conestoga’s first ever Mock Trial team gives their input on their 2020-21 campaign, as they defied the odds by making the State Tournament.


Members of the Conestoga Mock Trial Team (L to R) Braden Ruffner, Jennifer Sedlacek, Lindee Watson, Jack Welch, Lucas Michel and Ben Welch have found success in competitions during the school’s first year hosting the program. John McConnell (not pictured) has joined the team for practices and competitions via Zoom this year.

Murray, Neb.–This school year marked the birth of Conestoga’s Mock Trial team. The team, formed by Judge Larry Welch, consisted of seven Conestoga students: John McConnell (Fr.), Jack Welch (So.), Lucas Michel (Jr.), Lindee Watson (Jr.), Braden Ruffner (Sr.), Jennifer Sedlacek (Sr.), and Ben Welch (Sr.).

Mock Trial has been a popular nationwide competition for decades, and its growing popularity and competitive nature is a reason that Conestoga decided to take up a Mock Trial program in 2020. The team certainly asserted their competitive nature with their State run in their year one campaign, taking down Fillmore Central in their district competitions, en route to a State Playoff berth. The team competed in the All-Class State competition, dropping matches to both Ogallala and Ainsworth, but finishing strongly by defeating Lutheran High Northeast to earn a 9th place finish. Creighton Prep reigned victorious in the competition.

As the season came to a close, the members of the Mock Trial reflected on their breakout season.

“I absolutely loved my first year in mock trial,” Junior Attorney Lindee Watson said. “It was everything and even more than what I was hoping for. Even before this program, I’ve always thought about going into law as my future career path, and Mock Trial only enriched that thought. I found that competitive aspect of the cases and fell in love.”

Senior witness and timekeeper Braden Ruffner also had some words of positivity when reflecting on the season: “I really enjoyed Mock Trial. I was pleasantly surprised and had a lot more fun than I was originally expecting. Mock trial gave me some valuable speaking and studying skills, along with some important confidence. It taught me these important skills that I can use later in life, whether it is in my future job or in my relationships,” Ruffner stated.

Freshman witness John McConnell stated that he ended up very much enjoying Mock Trial, but that it was a lot different than he had anticipated.

“I actually didn’t know that it was a competition when I started out, I thought it was just an exercise people would do, but I think it turned out better than I had expected it to be,” stated McConnell with a chuckle.

Ruffner also attested to the fact that Mock Trial was quite a bit different than he had originally thought.

“It was not (what I expected),” said Ruffner. “I didn’t expect it to be so competitive. The team got really invested in wanting to succeed and that added some more excitement to it.”

The competition took place over a Zoom video call, and the trial was judged and moderated by real judges and juries. All students involved in mock trial served important roles in the success of the team. With as good of a start that the mock trial team had in 2020-21, the team will be looking forward to improve their legal system skills next year.

“Whether someone (wants) to go into law or not, mock trial will for sure help you succeed in whatever you are attempting to do!” – Lindee Watson