Tri-County Forensic League: Congress State Qualifier
(March 9, 2014)
There is probably no other team in Southern California that sat through more Congress Finals rounds this year than El Camino and it showed when all five competitors broke to the Semi-Final round, and then Marlon Poroj and Shawn Haq finished in First and Second Place respectively out of a field that started with 52 competitors from throughout the League.
Congress Finals rounds this year than El Camino and it showed when all five competitors broke to the Semi-Final round, and then Marlon Poroj and Shawn Haq finished in First and Second Place respectively out of a field that started with 52 competitors from throughout the League.
A review of the competitions from the year will reveal that the team did quite well on a fairly consistent basis in Congress and was often represented in Finals rounds. However, it’s the Finals rounds that they did not qualify for, but still attended that tells the story. The natural inclination is to head home once ones team is out of the running at a particular tournament. After all, there’s homework to catch up on and there’s no use throwing good money/time after bad. However, that’s not the way this team operated.
Thanks in large part to the determination and leadership of Professor Velásquez, the team always stayed to the end of tournaments and noted what made the great competitors great. Additionally, they took on the toughest competition they could find all year long, whether it was at La Costa Canyon or Berkeley, and they took their lumps at times, but they kept on going.
Almost at the very onset of the year, Professor Velásquez spotted that Marlon Poroj was an extremely talented rookie competitor and Marlon solidly led the team in Congress competitions and did quite well in other events he dabbled in. Hilda Velásquez-Galvez (the Professor’s daughter) closely shadowed Marlon’s success and then newcomers Shawn Haq and Albert Tang kept close pace as well and Brendan Pichay rounded out that core. Sophia Funkhouser and Emily Mercer also won trophies this year in Congress but chose to focus their energies on other events.
Early in the year, Professor Velásquez knew deep in his gut that Marlon would be qualifying for the state competition, but he was as uncertain how the rest of the stable would fair. In mid-February, the team traveled to the highly competitive Berkeley competition. Shawn Haq seemed to be heavily investing himself with excessively long hours of preparation. When word spread that Shawn had not broken to the Semi-Finals with Marlon and Brendan, one had to wonder if that was a back-breaker. Apparently, that did not break Shawn’s moral. Sticking with tradition, the team watched that Finals round, and all the while, Shawn took vociferous notes and paid attention to some of the state’s best competitors like a hawk. As would be observed on March 8, that hard work would pay off.
As with all great ventures, most of the work goes into the preparation. The contest itself started out with 58 competitors from throughout the Tri-County area and when the first two rounds were done, the top 28 students made it to the Semi-Final round. Further, all five of the competitors from El Camino Real, Marlon Poroj, Shawn Haq, Albert Tang, Hilda Velásquez-Galvez, and Brendan Pichay, advanced were part of the top 28 who advanced. When the Semi-Finals round was complete, two of the El Camino students, Marlon Poroj and Shawn Haq made the cut to the Finals round, and following that heated round, El Camino ended up securing the top two positions overall with Marlon finishing first and Shawn coming in a close second with a very strong Finals round.