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FAYETTE, Iowa (February 13, 2020) – The Upper Iowa University (UIU) Mock Trial team recently competed against 45 other collegiate teams in the 32nd National Mock Trial Invitational at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. After tallying a perfect score, UIU junior Payton Kastenschmidt was named an Attorney Award recipient. A native of Brandon, Wisconsin, she is majoring in biology, with a minor in prelaw. Kastenschmidt joined the UIU Mock Trial team last school year when contemplating whether to pursue a career in medicine or law.

“I’ve learned so much from the coaches as well as from other team members,” Kastenschmidt said. “Mock trial has helped me become confident when speaking in front of people as well as presenting more clear and concise arguments. I have loved the entire experience and would like to go to law school and focus on civil litigation.”

The UIU Mock Trial season later concluded during a regional tournament in Wheaton, Illinois. In addition to Kastenschmidt, the 2019-20 team included Elizabeth Creveling, a senior criminal justice major from Anamosa, Iowa; Robert Valladares, a junior criminal justice major from Moline, Illinois; Gabrielle Palomo, a sophomore biology major from Homewood, Illinois; Breanna Ellis, a senior biology major from Oelwein, Iowa; Abigail McKay, a sophomore public administration and criminal justice double major from Eldridge, Iowa; Nolan Schulte, a sophomore biology major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Elizabeth Goddard, a sophomore communication studies major from Clermont, Iowa. The team is coached by UIU Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Tiffany Kragnes and Associate Professor of Business Christopher Kragnes.

The regional competition included schools with long histories of competing in the national tournament, such as Loyola University Chicago, Drake University, University of Chicago, Indiana University, University of Iowa and Macalester College.

“It’s a privilege to compete against these teams and work on our trial skills,” Tiffany Kragnes said. “Chris and I have seen significant improvement from these students, which culminated into some great performances. The team takes suggestions from the judges and incorporates them immediately into the next trial. While our returning members continued making strides in their performances, it has been especially fun to watch the growth of our first-year competitors. The team worked together all season long, ensuring a strong base for next year.”