POCAHONTAS - The Pocahontas High School mock trial team will compete at the national level in Madison, Wis., in May.
The team of nine students qualified at the state tournament in March, Chris Vrba, team coach, said.
"There have been 31 mock trial contests in the state of Iowa and we've been at all 31," he said. "We've placed in the top 10 in 30 of those."
-Messenger photo by Brandon L. Summers
Melanie Nesbitt, Pocahontas High School mock trial team member, right, practices her opening remarks to her teammates. From center left are Parker Aden, Maggie Hallman, Nick Wiemers and Kate Vonnahme. The team of nine puts in several hours a day readying for the national competition in May.
It takes hard work and true dedication to make it to the national competition, Vrba said.
"They'll put in 20 and 30 hours of scheduled practice each week, plus whatever they put in on their own, which we ask they do because with mock trial, more so than many types of competition, the harder you work, the better prepared you are," he said. "And the better prepared you are, the better chance you have of winning."
Vrba said the team and fellow coaches Laura and Ryan Seelau were pleased to be advancing to nationals.
"It's an exciting experience for us as coaches, and the kids are absolutely elated," he said. "We gave them a choice between preparing to go compete at the tournament and actually getting ready to win at the tournament, and immediately they came to the conclusion that they wanted to go and try to win."
The team received its case details on April 1, a wrongful death suit between business partners, and has since been preparing.
"We spent three months trying to get ready for regionals and then a state tournament, and now we throw all that aside, pick up a new case, and you get five weeks to prepare for something you previously spent three months working on," Vrba said.
He added, "In one weekend we put in 20 hours getting them ready. They've been coming in every morning at 7 a.m. We do an hour of power before classes start."
The team is also working to raise funds for the trip, Vrba said.
"We've targeted $4,000, and that will cover our travel and hotel expenses," he said. "The state bar association was kind enough to pick up the tournament registration for the students."
Contributions can be sent to Pocahontas High School, 202 First Ave. S.W., and must be noted Pocahontas Area CSD Mock Trial.
"Any funds we happen to raise this year we get to keep putting toward the mock trial program," Vrba said.
There will also be a public scrimmage May 3 at 1 p.m. at the Rialto Theater in Pocahontas, Vrba said, with the cost of attendance a freewill donation.
The team leaves May 7 for the competition on May 9 and 10.
"There are 46 teams in the tournament, so that's almost every state represented," Vrba said. "And there's a school from Guam that flies in and another one from the Mariana Islands. There's also a team from South Korea. I don't know if it's a national championship so much as a world championship."