For the first time in 14 years, the mock trial team at the University of Wisconsin has earned a bid to the National Championship Tournament.

The tournament will begin April 8 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, according to the tournament’s websiteAlready, UW’s team has raised more than $10,000 on GoFundMe to pay for the trip.

The team entered regionals in the lowest bracket but finished in the top six out of 24 teams in the competition, allowing them to move on to nationals. Until this year, UW was not known for having an outstanding team, ranking No. 241 in the nation, team captain and UW senior Jack Styler said.

Styler cites several factors contributing to the team’s sudden success, including a talented group of students who joined last fall.

“It’s their first year, and they have all already brought a lot of really good natural talent and energy to the team,” Styler said.

In fact, every freshman on the team has won an individual award this season, UW freshman and mock trial member Shala Pacheco said.

Pacheco, who competed for the B team this year, looks forward to helping the A team with their new case for nationals.

“It’s been so impressive watching the team put together an entirely new case in just a few weeks,” Pacheco said.

Auditioning for the mock trial team was an intimidating experience, Pacheco said. In an auditorium full of experienced Mock Trial members, new recruits take on the role of attorney and present an opening or closing statement in response to a prompt.

“There are only 20 spots in the entire program, and there will only be a handful of participants graduating this year,” Styler said. “But UW’s recent success might allow for increased funding in the future.”

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Also contributing to the team’s success were returning members, who only make up three of the 10 A team members — each member improved their skills greatly throughout the season, Styler said. The team also increased practices from a few hours a week up to four hours daily.

“[The team] has just been so amazing,” Styler said, “And we’ve been so willing to put in the time and the effort.”

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Head coach Kate Slattery and two others have been vital to encouraging growth within the team, according to Styler.

Styler asks supporters to contribute to the GoFundMe page and reach out on Instagram for more information about the program.