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First in the courtroom

March 6, 2009
By Deb Gau

CANBY - They're not used to much attention, members of Canby High School's mock trial team said Thursday afternoon. But after a victorious day in the courtroom this week, they'll be getting it.

"We're having a pep fest on Monday," said student Brandon Kallhoff.

"It'll be weird," said teammate Shelby Kontz. Anders Henningsgaard added, "Our audience is usually our parents."

Article Photos

Photo by Deb Gau
One squad from the Canby High School mock trial team will be headed to the state competition in Duluth next week. It’s a first for the school. Back row, from left to right: Brandon Kallhoff, Alenni Nemitz and Alex Stoks. Front row: Paul Lueders, Shelby Kontz, Travis Nordgaard, Taylor Ward and Nicole Kraus. Not pictured are team members Anders Henningsgaard and Erin Kamrath.

The Canby students set a record on Wednesday as the first team in their school's history to qualify for the state mock trial tournament. The students leave for Duluth on Monday night.

In mock trial, students compete as members of a legal team, complete with prosecution, defense and witnesses, and make their arguments in court for a fictional case. This year, students said, they're working with a criminal case involving a deadly wildfire set off with human help.

Things didn't start out so well for the Canby team this year, students said.

"We started with a loss to Minneota," said team member Travis Nordgaard - and a big one, with a 14-point gap between the two teams' scores.

But, said coach Carol Gorder, the team worked hard, with help from attorney coach Stacy Vinberg. They improved enough to beat Minneota in the regional finals.

"We were down, and we picked ourselves up," team member Alex Stoks said.

If season competition had gone a little bit differently, Gorder said, it would have been Canby versus the younger Canby Blue team in the regional finals.

"There were a lot of tough teams, and a lot of tough judges," she said.

"It's a lot of work. A lot of time in the early mornings," Kontz said. With February's snowstorms, some of that dedication meant getting to school only to hear meets - and then class - had been canceled.

"We'd come in early and then wait until 10 to see if there was class," said team member Nicole Kraus. "By the time it was canceled, we'd already been at school for three hours."

"But by our own choice," added teammate Paul Lueders.

Sometimes practice could spill over into other parts of the students' lives, in funny ways, they said.

"I got a haircut right before regionals, and I brought my witness here along with me," Nordgaard said, gesturing to Stoks. "I was questioning the witness while I was getting my hair cut."



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