AKRON -- With expectations, comes excellence. That is the culture at Hudson Mock Trial, where the program advanced its fifth consecutive Regional team.

"It's always a really cool feeling to advance," said coach Sarah Hulburt. "But this year, it was particularly sweet. I think it was because we willed our way to victory."

Indeed, willfulness, they do not lack: led by the child-genius duo of Attorneys Tyler Richey and Sean Scarnecchia, the team of absolutely no experience bested a field that is known for an obsession with law, order and details. Richey swept the Best-Attorney awards, while his teammate Caitlin Gentry took home Best-Witness.

"Richey plays rugby, which is an accurate metaphor for how he lawyers," Hulburt said. "You throw a kid who tackles without pads for fun against lawyer kids -- he's going to be aggressive and different. The judges can see his toughness."

One of the judges who presided over the trial noticed the team's natural style.

"How they presented themselves is something that can't be rehearsed," said Cara Ford, of Akron. "It's organic in their spirit."

HMT saw many other members bring pride and accolades to the program. Team captains Nick Hakes and Jerusha Jacobs won Best Attorney and Best Witness awards, respectively.

"Jerusha and Nick have the huge roles of making the team logistics work smoothly, but also, performing at a high level," Hulbert said. "I expect a lot from my captains. And I'm really proud of these two."

Kevin Du, a junior, demonstrated that lawyering is skill that can be perfected with persistence. Last year, he started twice as a lawyer, and did not win any awards. His scores were average. This year, he won Best-Attorney, with scores that were predominantly 10's.

"Kevin kept telling me he wanted to be a witness this year, that he thought lawyering wasn't his thing," Hulburt said. "Boy, did he blow that thought away. The judges greatly admired his attorney performance. He's a true testament to hard-work."

Teammates Maria Zou and Jenny Gan also scored a Best-Attorney and Best-Witness award, respectively. In total, HMT won five (5) Best-Attorney and three (3) Best-Witness awards. The five Attorney awards are a program best.

"Maria and Jenny are second and third in the junior class," the coach said. "They are truly remarkable scholars. Their awards showed the depth of the team."

The Regional tournament is set for Feb. 10, at the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. Richey, Scarnecchia, Gentry, Erin Williams and Teresa Song will represent Hudson.

"There are two careers where there is a distinct winner and loser at the end of the day: a pro athlete, and a trial lawyer," Hulburt said. "We are in it to win it."

Submitted by coach Sarah Hulburt.