Come on people, over 100 views and no one has anything to say? I'll get the ball rolling.
There's no denying that Columbia has an incredibly solid bench this year between Nick Zurawski and Rachel Sommers. Both were All-Americans on the team that took 2nd in their NCT Division last year, and they've been cleaning house this year. Sommers picked up a double attorney/witness award combo on her home turf at CUBAIT, and both Sommers and Zurawski took attorney awards at GAMTI this past weekend (both on the same side, I might add). Columbia could be a dangerous team this year.
Harvard returns fantastic, well-rounded attorney Jordan Alston-Harmon, along with a number of Harvard's classic clever, likeable witnesses. Our 2015 NCT champs fell a little short last year, ending up with just an honorable mention in their division, but if they can find a couple more attorneys as solid as Alston-Harmon to round out their bench, they might soon be a serious contender again.
It's also worth mentioning American University. Their closing attorney Jenna Forster has picked up three awards so far this year, including a tie with Zurawski for top-ranked attorney at GAMTI. The team also returns 2016 All-American Witness Anna Merabyan, who's already added another award or two to her collection this year. Between this team's 3rd place finish in their NCT Division last year and their impressive 1st place victory at GAMTI, they are not to be underestimated.
There's plenty of other good names to throw in: Nicole Wittstein, from USC, looks to have won three attorney awards so far this year. NYU has to find someone to fill Deanna Oliver's shoes, and we'll have to wait and see if Nick Ramos fits the bill. Teams like University of Virginia, Miami, and Yale appear to have lost some important star power in Villany, Spear, Sandlin, and Stern - that might clear the field for some newer teams to shine this year.
I agree. I saw one of Yale's teams compete at an invitational, and I definitely wasn't blown away. From what I know, Yale doesn't power stack during the fall, so maybe that was the reason (if it's true).
Fordham Lincoln Center's team is also pretty solid. One of the competitors won both an attorney and witness award at the Tufts Invitational and seemed to be a force to be reckoned with.
Obviously watch out for Alston-Harmon, Zurawski, and Sommers, because they're certainly not getting worse as time passes. Also worth noting Rhodes in general--they had 5 teams qualify for ORCS, and none of them were below 6 ballots, so that's clearly a really solid program with a ton of depth.
Keep an eye on Kaitlyn Harper from Northern Illinois University, too. They're kind of an underdog team, but she's snagged a bunch of awards this year, including at Yale and the Iowa Regionals. Some other attorneys I noticed getting a couple awards were Ryan Gorey (Carleton), Mary Preston Austin (Wheaton), Natalie Bernier (North Central), and Jenna Forster (American).
Who else? After Regionals surely people are noticing stars!