ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Students from Albuquerque Academy represented New Mexico in the National High School Mock Trial Championship last week. The team took second place, going to the finals for the third time in 11 years. Albuquerque Academy is the only U.S. school to compete in the championship more than twice in the last 11 years.

The students developed a murder case in which the defendant claimed self-defense. The team consisted of Inaaya Hasham, Lucy Lott, Ben Raihane, Kyo Torres-Chen, Santiago Webb, Jamal Witter, and Gabriella Towsley.

“This group went on a remarkable run in this competition,” says Coach Joaquin Sanchez. “They got better every week and every round.” The team surpassed many defending champions and faced an Iowa team in the finals, where they took a close 6-7 ballot vote loss.

Sanchez says, “The kids did everything I asked of them and more. They were bold and brave in the courtroom and great kids outside of it – making friends with many teams along the way. So while it is bittersweet to finish second after coming so close to a championship, it is a remarkable outcome, nonetheless. Very few students get to experience the thrill of a championship round, and they excelled in their opportunity.”