DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University’s 14-member Moot Court Team competed in the recent Midwest Regional Tournament with two students advancing to nationals and a third earning an individual orator ranking.
For the annual competition, sponsored by the American Collegiate Moot Court Association, students simulate presenting legal arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Midwest Regional Tournament was held Nov. 22-23 at The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, and the national event will be held Jan. 17-18 at the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University in Tempe.
Team coach Michael Esler, Ph.D., an OWU professor of politics and government, said this is the largest and most diverse team the university has ever fielded for moot court competition.
“Half of our team consisted of international students,” said Esler, who also advises Ohio Wesleyan’s Pre-Law Studies Program. “One of the judges commented on how delightful it was to hear students with foreign accents arguing American Constitutional Law at such a high level. …
“This [also] is one of the youngest teams that OWU has fielded,” Esler said. “Experience counts for a lot in moot court, so we did surprisingly well for such a young team. We will have many competitors returning next year, so the future looks bright.”
Ohio Wesleyan students competing in the regional tournament were senior Andrew Paik of Columbus, Ohio; junior Katherine Berger of Sunbury, Ohio; senior Ooreoluwa Ladipo of Abuja, Nigeria; senior Max Richards of Lake Bluff, Ill., senior Aaradhana Ramesh of Bangalore, India; sophomore Taylor Weis of Sylvania, Ohio; junior Memme Onwudiwe of Centerville, Ohio; junior Liam Dennigan of Norwell, Mass.; senior MacKenzie Keffalos of Hamilton, Ohio; sophomore Jerry Lherisson of Randolph, Mass.; sophomore Erica Shah of Mumbai, India; senior Alex Jacobs of Lincoln, Mass.; senior Saar Rajpuria of Kolkata, India; and senior Jared Yee of Grove City, Ohio.
The teams of Onwudiwe and Dennigan and of Keffalos and Lherisson qualified for the “Sweet 16” round in the Wooster regional, and Paik earned 13th place among individual orators. Onwudiwe and Dennigan received an at-large bid to compete in the upcoming national tournament.
“The team put in a great deal of work,” Esler said of all 14 students. “We started the first week of classes and met twice a week for three or more hours each meeting. Students also spent a good deal of time on their own, briefing cases and preparing their arguments. The last two weeks were especially intense. We basically took over Elliott Hall after hours and stayed up working and practicing to late each night. Then students went back to their rooms and practiced until the early hours of the morning. But it was a lot of fun, too. We ate a lot of pizza and shared many laughs.”
Esler also shared credit for the team’s preparation and success with OWU speech instructor Eric Gnezda, M.F.A., who joined the group for several sessions and “provided invaluable assistance in how we presented our arguments.”
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private, coed university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world practice. OWU’s 1,850 students represent 42 states and 37 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.