At the highly regarded Cal (Berkeley) Invitational, El Camino sent two of its best into the competition, Marlon Poroj and Shawn Haq. In this test of wills it would be the elder Poroj who would emerge with the most accolades. The first big news came when word arrived that Marlon had broken to the Semi-Finals round in Congress. That important achievement gave him the opportunity to apply to the upcoming Tournament of Champions (TOC) tournament as an at-large competitor. In the Semis, he again did quite well against a lions-cage full of debaters he was the only one who gave three speeches in the whole round. That’s actually extremely rare for such a big tournament like that because it’s of its sheer competitiveness. People would usually end the round before that ever happened. That propelled him to the Final round, which was a huge step up for him after being phased out of the competition in the Semi-Finals round last year. From there he delivered one solid early speech, but because he went early he needed to deliver another speech so as not to be forgotten or shut out. However the bill that was being debated was literally the only bill he did not how time to prepare for (Impose a 1 cent sugar tax on surgery drinks) since he thought they would move onto the meatier stuff. So at the last minute he switched sides to give a speech of pure refutations on something he had no evidence on. He was just using common sense to work through a challenging moment. In the end he earned the 15th spot, which is comparable to placing Top 6 at the Stanford tournament.
Shawn Haq, who has been a fantastic roll this year at major tournaments, did quite well but wasn’t able to maintain that same level of accomplishment at the Cal tournament. He started out great by taking 1st in his preliminary round, and that was good enough to get him to the Semi-Finals round, but he didn’t prep for the Semis because he planned on being a Presiding Officer (PO) for that round. He was thinking that this would be an almost guaranteed break to Finals, but Swemmunson, who won Best PO at Stanford, ran against him! After a tally of the votes cast by the senators’, he and Swemmunson were tied 10 to 10. That sent matters to a coin flip, which Shawn unfortunately lost.