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Iona College Mock Trial Team Advances to Opening Round Championship Series

New Rochelle, NY (February 11, 2014) The Iona College Mock Trial team qualified to advance to the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) in Washington, DC after finishing in seventh place from a 20-team field at Roger Williams University, in Bristol, Rhode Island this past weekend.

The team finished with a record of five wins, two losses and one tie (Iona had the fifth-best record at the tournament, but lost a three-way tiebreaker), which qualified Iona to advance to ORCS.

“The road to this victory was by no means easy,” said Coach Isaac Gilwit.  In Round 1, the defense team faced the University of Connecticut.  Iona took both ballots by 14 and 18 points, respectively. 

In Round 2, the prosecution team faced the U.S. Coast Guard.  Again, Iona took both ballots by double digits -- this time by 19 and 13 points.  This improved Iona's record to 4-0 and placed Iona at the top of the tournament bracket.
Iona's Round 3 opponent was Lafayette College, who was also 4-0.  Lafayette is a perennial contender on the national scene, and this tournament was no exception.  The round was close and hard-fought.  Gilwit stated “While we thought that Iona performed well enough to win, the judges disagreed.”  One judge's ballot had a tie, and the other gave Lafayette the win by 8 points.  This left Iona with a record of 4.5 wins going into Round 4.
Iona would need at least 5.5 wins to secure a bid.  The Round 4 opponent was Harvard University.  According to Gilwit, “Our students dug deep and put on a great performance.  In a thrilling round, the judges ended up splitting, with Harvard taking one ballot by 5 points, and Iona taking the other ballot by 8 points.” 
This left Iona with 5.5 wins, good for seventh place and an automatic bid to the Opening Round Championship Series ("ORCS") in Washington, DC on March 22nd and 23rd.  This is the sixth year in a row (and the sixth time in school history) that Iona has qualified for ORCS. Additionally, Iona students Anastasia Nitis, Mary Ann Gallucci, and Amy Wert won individual awards for outstanding performances during the weekend.
This year's team faced hurdles that few, if any, other teams could overcome. “Qualifying for ORCS this year was tougher than in all previous years,” said Coach Gilwit. "Obviously, the loss of a long-time head coach (especially the founder of the program) would be a crushing blow for any team. In addition, two team members were suffering from the flu and another member had a stomach virus throughout the weekend.  But as they have done all season, students rose to the occasion and met the challenge head on."
As head co-coaches of the Iona College Mock Trial since October both Isaac Gilwit ‘09 and Michael Gelfand are no strangers to Iona. Isaac is an attorney and a former member of the team.  Isaac's family has long-standing roots in the New Rochelle community, and he graduated from Brooklyn Law School ('13) and Iona College ('09).  Michael was the assistant coach of the team for over five years, and is currently an associate in the Commercial Litigation Department of Westerman Ball Ederer Miller & Sharfstein, LLP, where he has worked for almost ten years.  Michael is a graduate of the New York University School of Law ('04).
The team this year has two goals: qualify for the National Championship tournament, and prepare for next year's rebuilding as our highest scorers graduate.   This year’s team are: Anastasia Nitis, ‘14 (co-captain), Mary Ann Gallucci, ‘14 (co-captain), Amy Wert, ‘15, Joshua Myree, ‘15, Ariel May, ‘15, Stephanie Stein, ‘16, Kayla Kosack, 17 and Valery Gabriel, ’17.
Gilwit stated, “We are very grateful for the continued support from the College of Arts and Science. The College has funded and supported us for 11 years and it has truly been instrumental in allowing this activity to thrive at Iona and earn a national reputation for excellence in pre-law litigation.”
The next tournament (ORCS) is scheduled to take place at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, DC on March 22 and 23.

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