Newswise — MOUNT VERNON, Iowa - The Cornell College Mock Trial Team continues to make a name for itself against much larger schools.

Team members just arrived back to campus with a big 7th place win from the American Mock Trial Association's 32nd National Championship Tournament.

The championship took place during the weekend of April 15 - 17.

“I am thrilled, not just for the students who actually competed at the National Championship Tournament, but for our whole program,” said Cornell College Mock Trial Head Coach Abbe Stensland.

Only the 48 best teams in the country competed, many of which were large universities and state schools.

“When we can travel across the country, compete with some of the biggest schools and still come out on top, it's an incredible feeling," said Mock Trial Team Member Kenny Capesius. "To know we are a small, private school in Iowa, and one of the best programs in the nation, is a point of pride for all of us."

In the ten years the team has been in existence, Stensland said it has qualified for the National Championship Tournament seven times. The Cornell Mock Trial program is currently ranked 35th nationally out of more than 600 teams that register to compete with the American Mock Trial Association.

“To put this in perspective, collegiate mock trial is not tiered like college athletics. This means that Cornell's mock trial team competes against large state schools like The University of Michigan and UCLA, Ivy League schools like Yale and Harvard, and everything in between. Cornell is the smallest school by student population to rank in the top 50 teams in the national rankings,” Stensland said.

No matter who they are competing against, the coach has high expectations.

“I expect our students to compete at a high level, regardless of the size of the institution on the other side of the aisle," Stensland said. "Cornell's students are some of the best and brightest in the country and mock trial is one of those unique arenas where we can prove that size doesn't matter."

Seven students competed, but others helped the group of seniors prepare. Those who took part in the National Championship include: Capesius, Nora McKenzie, Maria Goodfellow, Evan Andersson, Sarah Bertschy, Kahn Branch, and Chris Machold.

The National Championship was hosted by Furman University in Greenville, North Carolina and sponsored by the Charleston School of Law.

Mock Trial allows students to learn to identify a problem, identify potential solutions to that problem, analyze and select the best solution, and persuasively present that solution.