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Solving the crime: Mohave High School forensics team claims gold medal at state competition

April 26, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — There can be little doubt as to whether Alexandria West, Anthony Hart and Toni Moore are the best high-school forensics team in Arizona. They’ve got gold medals that say they are.

What’s a little uncertain is whether their adviser, Mike Sullivan, was moved to tears by the trio’s accomplishment.

“I had something in my eye,” Sullivan said.

The Mohave High School students insisted that Sullivan cried after they were announced as gold-medal winners earlier this month at the state SkillsUSA forensics competition in Phoenix.

Hart, Moore and West are the first Mohave team to earn the gold. They now go to nationals in June in Louisville, Kentucky.

The state competition required students to observe a mock crime scene and collect evidence to try to put together a theory of how a man was killed after an altercation.

Hart said the Mohave team found three shell casings, two blood drops, a driver license, a bloody footprint and a pool of blood. He said part of the team’s task was to collect and properly package the evidence. Each of the students then wrote a crime scene report and took a 100-question written test.

One challenge, he said, was calculating the angle at which a drop of blood fell, so that they could determine whether the victim was moving when he was hit by bullets.

Hart said the team gathered enough evidence to make an

educated assumption as to the identity of the perpetrator.

West said the experience at state was scary at times.

“You go in there and you’re not sure how it’s going to go,” she said. “Then you see it and you think ‘I got this, I know what I’m doing.’ Afterward, you’re thinking ‘I wonder if I did it right.’ ”

Moore, who is in her first year of SkillsUSA, said that winning at state has shown her how much she’s capable of and that she’s now considering a career in forensics.

Moore said that West and Hart are good partners, willing to work hard to overcome any mistakes and sharing in humor that lowers the stress of the competition.

“They’re a really good team,” she said. “We have each other’s backs no matter what.”

Hart is in his third year of competing. He said earlier participation helped him prepare for the inevitable changes from one competition to the next. He said he knows nothing about the 50 other teams Mohave will face in the two-day nationals event.

About half will be eliminated the first day, and the others will vie for top honors.

West said she’s nervous about nationals. Moore said she thinks the team can do well, because of how the team improved between regionals in February and state.

Sullivan said he was not surprised by his team’s performance.

“I told them that you have to be better than the gold-medal team to actually get the gold,” he said. “And it’s obvious they did that. There was a lot of determination and a lot of effort put into it. They made me very proud.”

There may be more good news for the area. Gina Covert, career and technical education director for the Colorado River Union High School District, noted that other career and technical student organizations still have competitions to come.

West said she hopes the team’s success inspires more students from the MHS law enforcement class to enter SkillsUSA competitions.

“It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s really fun,” she said.

The team members are raising money for expenses during the trip not covered in the CTE budget. Anyone wishing to donate may contact Sullivan at 760-954-5582, Hart at 928-234-7064, Moore at 928-542-8014 or West at 928-299-6295.