AHS Mock Trial: National Champions

History-breaking win for Miller-Metzger Academy Mock Trial team


Amy Akers

The National Champion Mock Trial team has placed Ankeny in the highest level, a level not typically seen for public schools. “There were tons of Ivy League prep schools—like the $40,000+ a year Princeton Day School from New Jersey that we eliminated in the second round—and so Ankeny stood out as a public school,” assistant coach of the Miller-Metzger Academy, Joe Metzger said. “We showed that not only can public school kids compete with prestigious prep schools. We can beat them.”

Joanna Guerrero and Vivian Wu

For the first time in the history of Ankeny High School, the Mock Trial team won the National High School Mock Trial Championship. The championship was hosted in Little Rock, Arkansas from May 18 to the 20 and schools from all over the country from the Northern Mariana Islands to South Korea competed.

The team consists of senior Grant Miner, junior Chloe Andersen, senior Marissa Larson-Minar, junior Hayden Dewitt, junior Mallory Jordan, senior Nicki Casady, Southview junior Sereena Casady, junior Noah Yeager, and senior Hannah Pross won all their championship rounds advancing them into the championship competition against New Mexico. They defeated New Mexico and were named victorious, leaving the students and coaches ecstatic.

I am blown away about this accomplishment by the team, but not completely surprised,” teacher advisor of the Ankeny Mock Trial program, Amy Akers said. “They have worked so hard and are so deserving of this title.”

All the hard work put into Mock Trial paid off. The three teams of Ankeny High School made it out of regionals and one of them won nationals.

The team anxiously waits for the results. The team supports one another by holding hands. “My favorite memory was when we all gathered together after our fourth trial, waiting to hear who made it to the finals. When the first team was announced, New Mexico, we thought we didn’t make it,” junior Hayden Dewitt said. “But when we heard our school announced, we jumped and screamed. I know I cried. It was a very euphoric feeling that will remain in my and my team’s heart forever. We are forever grateful for this opportunity, and we have everyone who contributed whether with time or finances to thank.” (Amy Akers)

“Attorney coach Marcus Miller and coach Joe Metzger and all the other attorneys, parents, and student coaches have devoted hundreds of hours to these mock trial teams and really deserve credit for the teams’ successes,” Akers said.

Students and coaches had long days of preparing for Nationals. Hard work that rewarded them an accomplishment only a few achieve.

It feels absolutely amazing! We’ve put so much work into earning this amazing title,” Andersen said. “If you had told me last season we would have won, I wouldn’t have believed you. It still hasn’t fully set in yet!”

The coaches went hard on the students since the very first day. Expectations that helped shape this year to be unforgettable and triumphant.

Throughout the season, I repeatedly emphasized the values of hard work, striving for excellence, and respect. I wasn’t easy on them and pushed each of them beyond their comfort levels, but they rose to the occasion, finishing the season as better mock trialers, better students, and better citizens than when they began the season. That’s the magic of mock trial,” head coach of the Miller-Metzger Academy Marcus Miller said. “They sacrificed so many things to put in the work to get to the level at which they competed. It is absolutely a year that I will never forget.”

Students formed bonds with the team that set them apart from teams at the championship. Bonds that were encouraged and formed with the help of the coaches.

“Our team is truly a special one. At the beginning of the season, our coach, Marcus Miller, forced us to hangout calling it “forced rapport” and from there, we became a family,” Dewitt said. “The relationship we have with each other is something amazing, and I could not have asked for a more perfect team to take home the title with.”

The Mock Trial team during the championship did not fail from receiving love and support from those at the competition and back home.

After a day of nonstop trials, our team, as finalists, got a standing applause when we walked in [the awards gala]. It was such a unique thing to experience and I couldn’t even really comprehend that they were all cheering for us and that they had watched our trial,” Andersen said. “During the gala, many people that I had never met came up to us and said that they were cheering for us when they were watching the finals.”

Emotions have been blissful and surprising for the team as it is still hard for them to comprehend all that they have done.

It is definitely still surreal. The love and support we have gotten from our friends, families, coaches, and teachers is absolutely amazing. This is truly a dream come true, and we are forever grateful for the opportunity to do this in the first place,” DeWitt said. It is hands down our biggest accomplishment and it is amazing to see all of our hard work fully paying off to the highest it could.”

The weekend not only consisted of competing in the championship, students were also allowed to socialize and participate in tourist activities.

Mock Trial students were able to enjoy and explore Little Rock, Arkansas during their down time. “The experience [at Nationals] was absolutely perfect. It was very rigorous, but I have made so many friends across the country that I would’ve never met. I’ve chatted with people from coast to coast,” junior Chloe Andersen said. “Going into this, I didn’t think I was going to be able to focus on the social aspect at all and just the competition. I saw so many historical sights, had new experiences, and really grew as a person.” (Amy Akers)

The entire trip, from getting up for a 5 a.m. flight till getting home at midnight was incredible. We took advantage of the city [Little Rock] and visited some tourist attractions. We had a total of 10 trials. Half were scrimmages before the competition, and the other half were our actual competition rounds,” Dewitt said. “We had genuinely the most fun. We met many, many people from across the country, and every single person was so kind and welcoming. We had events like a pin exchange where everyone brought a pin or token that represented their state, so we came home with a bunch of souvenirs. The competitions were tough, but we had a great time throughout them.”

Teams enjoyed the historical sights and meeting people from around the country while being in Arkansas. It was a weekend of triumphs and new experiences. Triumphs that were not only for the team but for individuals and the state of Iowa.

“Not only did Iowa win nationals—becoming the winningest state in the nation—but Nicki Cassidy was ranked number one attorney in the nation! Iowa also secured a bid to host Nationals in 2026, so it was a great night for Iowa!” assistant coach for the Miller-Metzger Academy Joe Metzger said.