The second the clock hit 4:45 p.m., court was in session.
And just as assistant coach Ilija Cvetich said, no one could leave; no one could “turn around and look if someone came in and started burping”; and no one could go to the bathroom.
Something was on the line, but it wasn’t the fate of underpaid and underworked Tantaran immigrant Lynn Stark, the head witness portrayed by sophomore Gabi Alvarado.
Instead, it was the SCDS Mock Trial team’s chance to advance to state competition, something that would be unprecedented in history.
After the most successful season since 2009, the Mock Trial team lost to Elk Grove High School, 578-614, in the finals, finishing second of 16 Sacramento County teams, on Feb. 27.
Elk Grove, the undefeated champions, were, from an audience’s point of view, the fan favorite.
Not only were there more people stacked in the rows of chairs on the 16th floor’s ceremonial courtroom (the largest in the Robert T. Matsui Courthouse), but from the very beginning the judge seemed freer and looser with them, posing incredibly off-the-script questions such as “How are you defining interrogation?”
The Elk Grove team even started out by asking for a penalty check before the match had started (something that slightly perplexed audience members on both sides).
Teams can acquire penalties by being rowdy or rude during a trial, and these penalties will subtract points from a team’s overall score.
Elk Grove’s performance aside, court may not be adjourned quite yet for Country Day.
According to sophomores Jack Christian and Gabi Alvarado, there is a 10 percent chance that they could advance to state competition if there is an unbalanced number of teams.
But even if this is the end of the line, team members and coaches are overjoyed with the team’s performance.
Before the team set out for downtown, coach Wayne Strumpfer gave them some words of encouragement.
“Enjoy this,” he said.
“Hardly any kids in the Sacramento County get to do this. Out of 16 county teams, only two make it this far.”
He then encouraged them to stick to the fundamentals of the case, to be friendly on the floor and to have fun above all else.
Last year, the team finished third, and Strumpfer said he thinks Mock Trial will continue its upward climb.
Freshman Téa Huynh-Van said that she is looking forward to next year.
“We can definitely make it next year,” Huynh-Van said. “Look at how far we’ve come already.”
Truly, Country Day’s Mock Trial team is on the rise.
For example, Elk Grove did not win with the same landslide they usually attain. One judge gave them only three more points than Country Day, with two others giving six points up.
In addition, the team won numerous awards.
Co-captain senior Jaelan Trapp, who earned four 20-point scores in the previous concluding argument, won MVP and Top Trial Attorney.
And although competing for only his second year, Christian also received a Top Trial Attorney award.
The Top Pre-Trial Attorney awards went to Nadgauda and senior Arvind Krishnan.
In addition, Alvarado (a second-year team member) and sophomore Blake Lincoln were recognized with Top Witness awards.
And Top Bailiff/Clerk awards went to junior Smita Sikaria and freshman Anu Krishnan.
After the competition, there was little time for anything more than hugs with family members before team members went over to the awards ceremony at the Holiday Inn, blocks away from the courthouse.
A more in-depth article on the Mock Trial’s case, as well as students’ and coaches’ views on this pivotal year, will be printed in the March 21 Octagon.