In their record 22nd appearance before the justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Rhinelander High School mock trial team defeated Shorewood High School to become the 2014 state champion. In so doing, the defending state champion Hodags broke their own state record by winning their 17th title since the inception of the mock trial tournament 31 years ago.
The Rhinelander team has only two returning members from last year’s state championship team, senior co-captains Amber Sheth and Lydia O’Brien. The other members are juniors Mike Anderson and Erin Tenderholt, sophomores Anna Catlin and Emily Ditzler, and freshmen Albi Sabani, Ellie Rickman, and Sydney Schallock.
“This was a major rebuilding year for us,” said faculty coach Kathy Vick-Martini. “In fact, this year’s team was one of the youngest and least experienced teams to represent RHS at the state tournament. Even so, they performed like seasoned vets.” Seven of the nine students received one or more perfect scores. In addition, Amber Sheth was honored as one of the five best student attorneys in the state and her teammate Ellie Rickman was named one of the five best student witnesses.
“Our goal was to qualify for the Finals as one of the top two teams in the tournament,” noted Mike Bloom, Oneida Circuit Court Judge and legal advisor for the team. In fourteen of the last sixteen years, Rhinelander High School has done just that. The RHS squad qualified for the Finals this year by defeating teams from Superior, Lodi, and Christian Life. Although they lost a round to Appleton Xavier in the Semi-Finals, both teams went 3-1, and by virtue of a tie-breaker, RHS earned a berth in the Finals against Shorewood, the only undefeated team in semi-final action.
“This was the fourth time was have faced Shorewood in the Finals, and the third time we have prevailed,” said attorney coach Jim Jacobi. The Rhinelander team will now represent the State of Wisconsin in the National High School Mock Trial Tournament in Madison, Wisconsin, May 8-10. Anyone wishing to contribute to tournament expenses may send a check to the high school, made out to the RHS MOCK TRIAL TEAM, in care of Kathy Vick-Martini.