UC Berkeley

Cal Invitational


The El Camino team embarked on a long awaited journey to the Cal Invitational at UC Berkeley to face some of the toughest competition this side of the Mississippi. The tip of the spear was led by the seven brave Elco souls who entered this gantlet against a field of 138 Varsity competitors.


It is said that Brendan’s success in this tournament might have been the result of a new, tough nature he took into battle. In the hours leading up to the tournament, it certainly looks like he was getting into the zone. Well done Brendan!

Details are still sparse, but what we do know is that Shawn Haq went into this competition as one of the leaders in terms of preparation. His enthusiasm caught fire with Brendan Pichay, who has been a bit dormant as of late. However, they developed into a nice team in the days leading up to the competition, and the results of all that hard work showed when Brendan was one of the 45 senators to break to Semi-Finals!

Of course, this raised the question, would Marlon Poroj, the statesman-of-statesman on the team, the senator who showed early dominance and generally steady work all year in Congress also make a showing in this next tier. The answer was yes! Marlon was also among the top 45 out of 138 Student Congress competitors. Brendon and Marlon did not make the break to Finals, the top 18 in the competition, but they represented themselves and the team well.



Marlon got tuned up for the Cal Invitational by taking on anyone he could meet at Stanford on Friday afternoon. It must have worked; he was one of two Elco Congress debaters who made the cut to the Semi-Finals and was awarded a silver platter at the awards ceremony. Way to serve it up Marlon!

Hilda Velásquez-Galvez, Albert Tang, Shawn Haq, and Sarem Haq did not break to Semi-Finals, but based on their accomplishments in Student Congress earlier this year, we’re sure they will have a strong showing at the Tri-County Forensic League Student Congress State Qualifying competition on March 8 at LaReina High School in Thousand Oaks.


Emily’s 2nd place finish in Thematic Interpretation and 6th place finish in Impromptu were pretty clear. What wasn’t clear were some of the odd awards that UC Berkeley gave out this year.

Brendan and Marlon weren’t the only team members to come home with awards. With her solid success in Original Advocacy all year long, Emily Mercer had planned on competing at the Varsity level in this tournament. However, in mid-December, tournament directors decided to not offer that event. With her Parliamentary Debate partner not available and the Duo Interpretation piece and partner not available, she decided to develop a Thematic Interpretation piece for this event. Days leading up to a tournament two weeks ago at Newbury Park, Emily sewed together an interesting three-part TI with a common thread that focused on the loss of a child. With only 1/3 of the lines memorized she bulled her way through it and was able to secure a 6th Place finish in Varsity competition. Heading into this week at Berkeley, she was up against a fairly small Novice field of competitors, but with the challenges of school-work, still didn’t have all those lines down. Nonetheless, she was able to secure a 2nd Place finish and seems poised to peak just in time for the Tri-County Forensic League Individual Events State Qualifying competition on March 14 & 15 at Burbank High School.

Emily’s other award at the Cal Invitational at UC Berkeley came in Novice Impromptu. Emily has dabbled in this event a little bit this year, but has only found middle-of-the-road success. However, at Berkeley things changed. Faced with a tough field of 38 competitors, she picket-fenced (came in first) in every preliminary round and ended up a Finalist and 6th overall in this event! Professor Velásquez reports that this was no Novice field of competitors. He noted that one of the girls who finished ahead of Emily in the Finals round with a second place finish was actually a Finalist in Varsity in Impromptu at the prestigious Western States Invitational at La Costa. If Emily is now on par with competitors of that stature in Impromptu, she stands a decent chance of qualifying at the upcoming State Qualifying competition at Burbank.

A brief stopover at Stanford on the way to Berkeley.

A brief stopover at Stanford on the way to Berkeley.



The El Camino team arrives at UC Berkeley and postures itself for the competition.

ECR Speech and Debate © 2014