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Glenwood high school mock trial teams prove they’re the real thing

If it were the Olympics, the Glenwood Springs High School Mock Trial teams would have filled the podium.

The three teams – comprised of 31 kids – that competed in last weekend’s regional mock trial finals in Grand Junction finished 1-2-3, earning two of the teams a trip to the state finals in Fort Collins.

“We had the best results we’ve ever had in the history of the program,” mock trial coach and Garfield County Judge Vic Zerbi said.



And that’s saying a lot.

In eight of the nine years since the program’s inception, at least one team from Glenwood Springs has finished within the top five in the regionals. Also, a Glenwood Springs team has finished first and second the last three years in a row.



The regional competition, put on by the Grand Junction Bar Association, took place last Friday and Saturday in the new Mesa County Courthouse in Grand Junction. It included nine teams from all over the Western Slope.

“The only matches that we lost by our second and third teams were to our first team,” Zerbi said. “I’m proud of all three teams. The kids have worked very hard this fall.”

Glenwood Springs High School is one of just two schools in the state with more than one team in the state finals – the other being Kent Denver, the largest private school in Denver, Zerbi said.

“We’ve consistently been the smallest school in the state competition – we and Rifle,” Zerbi said.

In all, three teams from the Western Slope will travel to Fort Collins. They include one from Rifle High School, the team that came in fourth place, and two from Glenwood Springs. The only reason all three Glenwood Springs teams didn’t go to the state finals is because only two are allowed per school.

The state finals will take place in Larimer County Courthouse on March 8 and 9.

“We’ll leave after school Thursday. There are two rounds on Friday and one round on Saturday,” Zerbi said.

At the competition, the teams don’t know how they’re doing until the end, Zerbi explained. Then the top two are chosen to compete against each other.

Each school throughout the state was given the same case to study. This year the simulated case involved a college hazing death. A fictitious student is charged with hazing and involuntary manslaughter and the members of the mock trial team must learn all they can so they can litigate the case successfully.

“It’s very realistic,” Zerbi said. “It’s probably the most intellectually challenging thing you’re ever going to do at the high school level.”

Despite the school’s amazing record in mock trials, no team has yet reached the national finals. They’ve come in second three times – edged by just one point out of a possible 240 each time. That, however, could change this year.

“If they perform to their potential, anything is possible,” Zerbi said.

The team that wins will go on to the national finals in St. Paul, Minn.


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