Stetson celebrates 4 decades of ‘Chester Champions’

Four decades worth of Stetson College of Law Chester Champions gathered at the school in September for a reunion and to celebrate this year’s win. Back row from left: Chinwe Okpechi, Rachel Wood, Claudette Fornuto, Fred Schaub, Grace Samarkos, George Root, Jason Recksiedler, Charles Samarkos, Diego Novales, Kristin Gonzalez, Brandon Blake, Art Rios, Grady Irvin, Lara Breslow, and the Hon. Jessica Recksiedler. Center row from left: Megan Tiralosi, Elise Engle, Judge David Demers, Kristin Demers-Crowell, Professor Lee Coppock, Mariela Llanes, Dan Green, Randy Brennan, Jaime Eagan, and Jennifer Fernandez. Front row from left: John Grant, Jamie Grant, LaMark McGreen, and Brandon Breslow. Photo by Mark Wemple.

The Stetson University College of Law team won the Chester Bedell Mock Trial Competition in January of this year, making it the 23rd time in 37 years a Stetson team claimed the award.

It’s a fitting continuation of the legacy, given that a Stetson team won the inaugural Chester Bedell competition in 1983.

To celebrate the trophy’s return to campus, Stetson invited winning team members and coaches from the last four decades back for a Chester Champs Reunion on Sept. 14.

“We want to remind the world of our continued dominance in the advocacy world—a dominance that started in 1983 and has continued without any signs of stopping,” said Professor Roberta Flowers, interim director of the Center for Excellence in Advocacy.

The Trial Lawyers Section of the Florida Bar conducts the prestigious competition for mock trial teams from across the state annually, and distinguished members of the judiciary preside over the final round.

This year’s winning team comprised Elise Engle, LaMark McGreen, Grace Samarkos and Megan Tiralosi. A second Stetson team made it to the semi-final round. That group included JD Arnett, Olivia Bergert, Blake Fromang and Justine Roof.

Samarkos is the daughter of Charles Samarkos J.D. ’89, who won the Chester Bedell competition when he was a student at Stetson. Fromang is the son of Stetson Law alumna Jennifer Eden J.D. ’90, who won Chester Bedell several times when she was a student.  

Stetson Law 2016 alumni Brandon and Lara Breslow co-coached this year’s team.

Stetson’s program in trial advocacy is nationally ranked no. 1 by U.S. News & World Report. To learn more about the advocacy program, visit