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Jonesboro High facing mock trial history in '09

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Jonesboro High School built a Clayton County mock trial dynasty by winning almost every regional competition over the last 21 years.

The school hasn't lost, regionally, since 2001. It also has established a state mock trial dynasty by winning six titles, more than any other Georgia school.

Now, Jonesboro is working on a national mock trial dynasty, by winning back-to-back championships, and is on course to make history next year -- if it wins an unprecedented third national title. And next year's championship competition will be in Atlanta.

"We'll talk about being a national dynasty after the team wins next year's national competition," said senior Lindsay Hargis. "You guys have to win it next year; you can't stop now," she told team members who will be back in 2009.

"Don't worry, we will," replied junior Bridget Harris, who will be one of 11 seniors on next year's team.

Jonesboro's national win on Saturday tied the school with the Family Christian Academy Homeschoolers of Chattanooga, Tenn., for the most national titles. Each school has won two. . No school, however, has won three or more titles. And no school has won a national championship in its home state.

Harris said the target on Jonesboro next year will be as big as the school's library, and that is fine with the returning team members.

Anna Cox, one of Jonesboro's faculty coaches, said it is difficult enough to remain at a national championship level for two consecutive years, but it will be even harder to do it for a third year. On Monday morning, Cox was already identifying who she wants to see on the next team.

"It's difficult to win back-to-back national championships because of the level of competition you have to hold for two years in a row," she said. "You also have to instill in these kids an attitude of 'I can do it.' They have to know they can do it, if they are going to pull it off. The students who finished fifth in Oklahoma [in 2006] knew they could win last year, but we lost a lot of people from that team to graduation.

"This year, we had a lot of new members, so we [coaches] had to express our faith in them even more, to show them they could also win a national championship."

Jonesboro team members welcome the challenge of winning a third national title, and hope to silence any doubters who claim they cannot achieve a "three-peat."

A "we must defend this house" mentality will be pushing Jonesboro's team mebers for the next 12 months as they go through the summer without practices and competitions, participate in the school's Judicial Club from August to November, audition for the next team, and finally return to the routine of practicing and competing for titles.

"We've got to prove that we can do it again," said junior Jayda Hazell. "Once you're on top, the only place you can go is down, so we've got to prove we can stay up there."