Shannon Bonet

Bishop O'Dowd Triumphs at the University of the Pacific

Shannon Bonet
Bishop O'Dowd Triumphs at the University of the Pacific

At this year's Jon Schamber Invitational at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., Bishop O'Dowd's Claudia Hester & Sophia Yau-Weeks earned the championship. Affirming the resolution, "The National Collegiate Athletic Association should pay college athletes a salary", they defeated Evergreen’s Poojan Shukla & Marek Zielinski on a 2-1 decision. Hester & Yau-Weeks successfully argued that pecuniary compensation for athletes and female representation were necessary in collegiate sports. With the NCAA as their actor, they proved that salaries paid to students would garner positive impacts.

This was the first tournament that Bishop O’Dowd has won since their closeout of the Georgiana Hays Invitational in 2015, and the first time that an all-female team has won the UOP high school invitational in recent history. 

(left to right) Hester, Yau-Weeks, Zielinski, Shukla 

(left to right) Hester, Yau-Weeks, Zielinski, Shukla 

Over the weekend, 73 parliamentary debate teams gathered to compete, with only 16 teams breaking to elimination rounds. Due to the large field size, only three 3-2 teams broke, which made speaker points crucial. Elimination rounds consisted of many familiar faces on the Northern California circuit, including the previous year's champion, Lowell’s Emily Hall, recent Notre Dame champion, Campolindo’s Austen Li, and this year’s current top-ranked team, the Los Altos/Notre Dame hybrid of Spencer Dembner & Lilly Hackworth.

Until finals, Shukla & Zielinski had not lost a single ballot throughout both preliminary and elimination rounds. On their way to the final round, they dropped Sanger Union’s Daniel Gonzalez & Alex Rosales in octos, Clovis’s North Billy Erysian & Pooja Heragu in quarters, and Campolindo’s Austen Li & Ming Qian in semis, all on 3-0 decisions. Meanwhile, Hester & Yau-Weeks defeated Granite Bay’s Angikaar Chana & Afrah Tahir in octos, Lowell’s Emily Hall & Frances Sutton in quarters, and Los Altos/Notre Dame’s Dembner & Hackworth in semis.

Hester's championship in the open division is, in a way, repetitive: she earned the novice championship at the Jon Schamber Invitational in 2014. And in addition to the title of open champion, Hester was also named the top speaker in the open division, while teammate McKenzie Taffe won top novice speaker. In open, Lowell's Frances Sutton and El Dorado's Brooke Schuld took second and third place. 

In the novice division, finals concluded with Davis’s Sithmi Jayasundara & Janet Liu defeating Washington’s Pranit Panda & Shashvat Patel on a 2-1 decision. Jayasundara & Liu dropped teams from El Dorado, James Logan, and another Washington team before claiming first place. 

This year, UOP ran a relatively efficient tournament. Despite the juggling of 15 different events, awards were presented before 5 P.M. on Sunday. Due to a sprawling, intricate campus, teams were allowed a 10-minute grace period to locate their rooms. Even so, many debaters found themselves scrambling in the dark to locate buildings on Friday night in fear of forfeiting their round. As Sunday drew to a close, many debaters, parents, and coaches stayed to watch the narrowing field of remaining debaters until the definitive final round.  


Bishop O'Dowd Claudia Hester & Sophia Yau-Weeks def. Granite Bay Angikaar Chana & Afrah Tahir (2-1)

Lowell Emily Hall & Frances Sutton def. Cupertino Leo Rassieur & Shankara Srikantan (3-0)

Evergreen Valley Kushal Sharma & Ayush Shukla def. Prospect Novia Dattatri & Vikram Dattatri (2-1)

Los Altos/Notre Dame Spencer Dembner & Lilly Hackworth def. Nueva Leo Rossi & Neeraj Sharma (3-0)

Evergreen Valley Poojan Shukla & Marek Zielenski def. Sanger Union Daniel Gonzalez & Alex Rosales (3-0)

Clovis North Billy Erysian & Pooja Heragu def. Bishop O'Dowd/Prospect Sanah Basrai & Meera Keskar  (2-1)

Campolindo Austen Li & Ming Qian def. Bentley Ryan Booth and Devin Pracar (2-1)

Los Altos Shirley Cheng & Ryan Lee def. Cupertino Adiyan Kaul & Sohan Vichare (2-1)


Bishop O'Dowd Hester & Yau-Weeks def. Lowell Hall & Sutton (3-0)

Los Altos/Notre Dame Dembner & Hackworth def. Evergreen Valley Sharma & Shukla (3-0)

Evergreen Valley Shukla & Zielenski def. Clovis North Erysian & Heragu (3-0)

Campolindo Li & Qian def. Los Altos Cheng & Lee (3-0) 


Bishop O'Dowd HY def. Los Altos/Notre Dame DH (2-1)

Evergreen Valley SZ def. Campolindo LQ (3-0)


Bishop O'Dowd HY def. Evergreen Valley SZ (2-1)

Tournament results can be found here.

Facebook post can be found here.

Our Northern California correspondents are Shannon Bonet, who debates for Campolindo High School, and Emily Her, who debates for Dougherty Valley High School.