Rhinelander High School broke its own state record this past weekend at the Marathon County Courthouse in Wausau, capturing its 30th consecutive Regional Mock Trial championship. The tournament was power-paired, resulting in a match between the top two teams in the final round, Rhinelander and D.C. Everest. RHS prevailed, to remain perfect on the day with a 4-0 record.
“Extending the winning streak at Regionals was, of course, our goal,” said head coach, Kathy Vick-Martini. “Because we have been successful for so long, there is an expectation that we will win, regardless of the fact that all of our opponents have improved considerably over the past three decades. The kids were really feeling the pressure. No one wants to be a member of the team that breaks the streak.”
“In addition, the referendum was weighing heavily on their minds,” Vick-Martini added. “They went into the tournament this past weekend knowing that if the referendum failed, this would be the last year there would be a mock trial program at Rhinelander High School and if so, they wanted to go out with a bang.”
Placing second in the Regional Tournament was Wausau West #1, followed by DC Everest #1 and Rhinelander #2.
“The students on RHS #2 were very competitive,” attorney coach Amy Ferguson said. “They were the only team in the tournament to win a ballot from RHS #1. If there is a future mock trial program at RHS, these students will be an integral part of it.”
Other teams participating in the competition were Lakeland Union, Phillips #1 and #2, DC Everest #2 and Wausau West #2. The tournament was sponsored by the Wisconsin Law Foundation and was coordinated by attorney Lance Leonhard of Wausau.
RHS #1was led by seniors Emily Ditzler, Anna Catlin, and Jarod Hoha. Also returning from last year’s team were juniors, Albiona Sabani, Ellie Rickman, and Sydney Schallock. New to the team was junior, Max Holperin.
Members of RHS #2 were junior Zack DuBois, sophomores Tyler Fredrick, Mason Hageny, Emily McFarland, Grace Payfer, and Samantha Smith, and freshmen Ben Kubisiak and Ben Sheth.
The RHS teams are coached by Kathy Vick-Martini, attorney Amy Ferguson, and Oneida Circuit Court judge Michael Bloom. Also assisting the team this year are Nicolet play director, Jim Nuttal, attorney Jim Jacobi and retired Oneida Circuit Court Judge Robert E. Kinney.
“The competition seems to get tougher each year, at both the Regional and the State levels,” Judge Bloom said. “This year’s team has risen to the challenge so far and, I believe, will be competitive at the State Tournament next month.”
RHS #1 will advance to the State Mock Trial Tournament in Madison on March 12-13. In the past thirty-two years since the program’s inception, teams from Rhinelander have won the state championship seventeen times, most recently, in 2014. More than 100 teams statewide are competing in the tournament this year.