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Mock Trial Team Finishes 8th in Opening Round Championship Series

4/1/2014
New Rochelle, NY (April 1, 2014) The Iona College mock trial team concluded the season with a record of four wins, three losses and a tie, finishing in eighth place in what was "the toughest tournament field that Iona has ever faced," said Coach Isaac Gilwit, Esq.

The team attended this season's Opening Round Championship Series ("ORCS"), a 24-team field at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and hosted by the University of Virginia.  The top six teams at this competition moved on to the National Championship Tournament ("NCT") in Orlando. 

“While nothing is certain until after the NCT, this result will most likely increase Iona's national ranking (currently 70th in the country) for next season,” said Coach Gilwit. “Although Iona barely missed qualifying for the NCT, we are very happy with the team's performance.” According to Gilwit, the ORCS field was so deep and difficult, Iona's ability to advance was largely dependent on the luck of the draw. 

Unfortunately, Iona randomly drew American University as its round 1 opponent on the prosecution side of the case.  American is currently ranked 38th in the country, but even that high ranking does not fully reflect American's status as a national powerhouse. 

American competes at the toughest and most prestigious invitational tournaments and has taken ballots from the top teams in the country.  Iona's scores during this round were very strong, but American's scores were almost perfect and unbeatable.  American took both ballots from Iona by 11 and 14 points, respectively. 

Iona's round two opponent on defense, was Boston College, ranked 117th in the country.  Gilwit stated “We believe that our students had a stellar round, but the judges split their ballots:  one judge had Iona winning by 28 points, and the other judge had Iona losing by 18 points.  Unfortunately, such wide splits are a common occurrence in mock trial.”

Notably, the scoring judge who had Iona winning wrote extensive comments explaining and justifying his scores (as the judges are instructed to do), while the judge who had Iona losing turned in comment sheets that were almost fully blank.  This left Iona with a record of 1-3 after two rounds. “Iona would have to be perfect in rounds 3 and 4 to have any chance of advancing,” said Gilwit, “The students nearly pulled it off.” 

Iona's round three opponents on prosecution was Seton Hall, ranked 152nd in the country.  The rounds were hard-fought and close, as both teams knew that they had to take both ballots to have any chance of moving on.  One judge gave Iona the round by four points, and the other judge had the teams tied.  This left Iona with a record of 2.5 wins after three rounds, making it almost mathematically impossible for Iona to move on. 

Because the round 4 pairings at ORCS are "high-low," Iona drew the University of Maryland as its round 4 opponent.  Maryland is a perennial national powerhouse - it was the 2008 National Champion and is currently ranked 27th in the country.  The Maryland team we faced was 4-2 (its only two losses were close losses to Penn State, which would finish the tournament at 8-0).  All that stood between Maryland and the NCT was Iona.  I am very proud to say that our students made their last round of the season their best.  They beat Maryland on both judge's ballots (by seven points and one point, respectively) and prevented Maryland from reaching the NCT.

More importantly from Iona's perspective, the two ballots gave Iona 4.5 wins for the tournament, which almost ensures that Iona's national ranking, will increase for next season.  The rankings will be announced later this semester.
Gilwit noted, qualifying for and being competitive at ORCS this year was tougher than in all previous years.  This year's team faced hurdles that few, if any, other teams could overcome. 

Isaac Gilwit and Michael Gelfand have been the head coaches of Iona's mock trial since October.  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).

This year’s mock trial team included: Anastasia Nitis (Sr co-captain), Mary Ann Gallucci (Sr co-captain), Amy Wert (Jr.), Joshua Myree (Jr.), Ariel May (Jr.), Stephanie Stein (So.), Kayla Kosack (Fr.) and Valery Gabriel (Fr.)

Two senior captains, Anastasia Nitis and Mary Ann Gallucci, have served on the mock trial team for four years and will graduate in May. “They have led this team to unprecedented heights,” said Coach Michael Gelfand, Esq. “We cannot say enough about the work they have put in and the leadership and character they have demonstrated.  They are two of the best and brightest the team has ever had.”

Gelfand added, “The two senior captains next year will be Amy Wert and Joshua Myree, and we expect them to lead the team to even greater success.” 

The mock trial team has earned a national reputation for excellence in pre-law litigation and is supported through the generosity of the Iona College School of Arts and Science. 

Gilwit and Gelfand are scheduled to continue as head coaches for the 2014-2015 seasons. All students are welcome to apply for the team and underclassmen are especially encouraged.

Students can sign up for tryouts by contacting any of the following Mock Trial members: Isaac Gilwit: ibgilwit@gmail.com , Michael Gelfand: mjgelfand2004@gmail.com, or Amy Wert: awert1@gaels.iona.edu , or Joshua Myree: jmyree1@gaels.iona.edu; or by signing up at the activity fair in September.