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Creighton Preparatory School seniors Will Lighthart, left, and Max Strehle; junior Nolan Drain; sophomore Jaliya Nagahawatte; junior Graham Laughlin; seniors Will Novacek and Jacob Thull; and junior Tyler Varney are members of the Omaha school’s mock trial state championship team.

Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart seniors Mary Clare Rogers, front row, left, Olivia Stanek and Cari Fossum; and back row, left, senior Margot Rickets, juniors Gabriella Nelson, Lauren Bloomquist and Elizabeth Billings, and senior Christina Danielson, are members of the Omaha school’s mock trial team that took second in the state championship.

Creighton Prep wins state mock trial competition

Team advances to nationals May 12-13 in Connecticut

It was so close – but somebody had to win.

All-boys Creighton Preparatory School won the state mock trial championship for the first time Dec. 6-7 in Lincoln, defeating all-girls Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart 3-2 on five judges’ ballots. And the deciding ballot between the Omaha schools? It was scored 108-107.

"The competition was very close," said Mike Shreves, government and practical law teacher at Creighton Prep and the mock trial teacher-coach.

Creighton Prep advances to the National High School Mock Trial Championship May 12-13 in Hartford, Conn. About 48 teams are expected to compete.

"Our boys are very excited about the opportunity," Shreves said. "They were excited to be the first team from Prep to win a state championship, and they are equally excited to see what they can accomplish on a national level."

Catholic schools have had quite a run in the mock trial competition in Nebraska. Duchesne Academy won state the last two years, and in 2015 became the first school from Nebraska to capture the national title.

Before Duchesne Academy, V. J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha won five straight state titles, and six in the last nine years. And Skutt Catholic was runner-up to Duchesne Academy twice.

"Everyone involved in the Prep mock trial program has respected and admired the Duchesne and Skutt programs for years," Shreves said. "We consider it an honor to be able to compete at their level."

Creighton Prep last qualified for the state competition in 2001. This year, 12 teams made it to state, arguing a hypothetical murder case.

Skills learned at mock trial include public speaking, analytical thinking and working as a team, Shreves said.

"They also learn to look at issues from various sides, since they must be equally good at prosecuting and defending the case," he said.

Students on the winning team from Creighton Prep are seniors Will Lighthart, Max Strehle, Will Novacek and Jacob Thull; juniors Nolan Drain, Graham Laughlin and Tyler Varney; and sophomore Jaliya Nagahawatte.

In addition to Shreves, four attorneys helped coach this year: Mark Laughlin, father of Graham Laughlin and a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha, and Patrick Cooper, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Elkhorn, both lawyers with Fraser Stryker law firm in Omaha; Thomas Strigenz, a member of St. Columbkille Parish in Papillion and a Sarpy County public defender; and Thomas Houston, a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish and a lawyer with Berkshire & Burmeister law firm in Omaha.

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