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Seasons end for local mock trial teams
Jonesboro suffers upset loss, Ola coaches pleased with 'learning experience'

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

There will be no national three-peat this year for Jonesboro High School's Mock Trial Team.

Jonesboro, and Ola High School had teams competing in the Georgia Mock Trial Competition Saturday in Lawrenceville. Neither team made it to the semifinals of the competition, though.

Jonesboro won national mock trial championships in 2007 and 2008. The school was attempting to make history as the first school to win three national championships, and to also be the first team to win a national title in its home state. This year's national mock trial competition will be held in May, in Atlanta. In mock trial, teams must win their state's competition to advance to the national competition.

"Everyone was shocked [that Jonesboro did not advance in the competition]," State Mock Trial Coordinator Stacey Rieke said on Sunday. "This year, there was an extremely strong field of teams, though."

Jonesboro, which is a six-time state champion, faced Bainbridge High School in the first round of the Competition Saturday. Jonesboro then faced Macon-based Central High School in the second round. All teams participate in the first and second rounds, and advance to the semifinals based on how many points they earn on the first day of the competition.

Point totals for Ola and Jonesboro were not available Sunday. Central High School advanced to the semifinals, which were held Sunday, though, along with Atlanta-based Grady High School, Decatur High School, and Athens Academy. Central and Grady also advanced to the competition's championship round. Grady won the state championship.

Jonesboro's team members are Brian Bady, Caroline Callaway, Dominique Delgado, Bridget Harris, Jayda Hazell, Kristi Hicks, Jurod James, Keenan Kelly, Tabias Kelly, Adrienne Marshall, Braeden Orr, Oriana Patterson, Fred Rohrbach, Courtney Smith, and Joe Strickland.

Their faculty and attorney coaches are Anna Cox and her husband, Andrew, Clayton County State Court Judge John Carbo, Clayton County Superior Court Judge Deborah Benefield, Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley, and law student Katie Powers.

Anna Cox said the team's coaches decided to decline an opportunity to comment on the loss, and any story written about their performance would not include input from anyone on the team.

While Jonesboro's coaches were disappointed about their performance at the competition, Ola's coaches were pleased with how their students performed. This year was Ola's first trip to the state competition.

The team was established three years ago. Ola's plaintiff team, and defendant team were split up in the first round. One faced Norcross-based Wesleyan School, while the other faced Central High School. In the second round, both of Ola's teams faced Blue Ridge-based Fannin County High School.

Brian Pogioli and Ashley Thompson, both juniors, earned a total of four awards for the team at the competition, Ola Attorney Coach Nicole Holcomb said. Pogioli garnered two outstanding witness awards, while Thompson earned two outstanding attorney awards, according to Holcomb.

Holcomb also said Pogioli and Thompson have been on the team since it was established. She said most of the students on the team will be seniors next year, and participating in the state competition gave them an opportunity to grow as they prepare for next year.

"It was a great learning experience and we took a lot out of it," Holcomb said. "The fact that we took home two outstanding witness awards, and two outstanding attorney awards says a lot about how far this program has come ... It was a great honor for us to go, and represent our region."

Ola's team members are Pogioli, Thompson, Chris Butler, Regan Corder, Elizabeth Dennard, Marilyn Dyess, Hunter Furnish, Daniel Jenkins, Matthew Kelley, Blake Mershon, Chrissy Ogletree, Marissa Poss, Eli Staggers, Amber Stapleton, Hannah Tabrizi, Naasi Williams and Kyle Winsor.

Ola's attorney coaches are Holcomb, William White, Sandra Rivers, Lindsay Hodgson, and Brian Gardiner. Tommy Thompson, Ola's assistant principal, is the team's head faculty coach. "We saw several good teams there, and I felt we held our own," coach Thompson said.