Emily Her

Los Altos Hybrid Wins Dempsey-Cronin for Second Consecutive Year

Emily Her
Los Altos Hybrid Wins Dempsey-Cronin for Second Consecutive Year

After five preliminary rounds and four prior elimination rounds, the Los Altos/Notre Dame hybrid duo of Spencer Dembner & Lilly Hackworth triumphed over Evergreen Valley’s Poojan Shukla & Marek Zielinski in the final round of Santa Clara University’s Dempsey-Cronin Invitational. Affirming the resolution, “The United States Federal Government should significantly increase funding to develop safety infrastructure for the use of highly autonomous vehicles,” Dembner & Hackworth prevailed on a narrow 3-2 decision.

(from left to right) Spencer Dembner, Lilly Hackworth, Marek Zielinski, and Poojan Shukla

(from left to right) Spencer Dembner, Lilly Hackworth, Marek Zielinski, and Poojan Shukla

The affirmative team created a plan to reduce the risk of accidents for autonomous vehicles by funding the development of signaling technology for stop lights and construction zones. Although the plan was designed to benefit the entire industry, it was met with the disadvantage that regulating the industry would result in its collapse.

Dembner & Hackworth maintained an undefeated record throughout the tournament. With a 5-0 record going into elimination rounds, the pair dropped Campolindo’s Kevin Deng & Krish Visht in double-octos, Irvington’s Rishabh Meswani & William Yoo in octos, Bentley’s Irene Partsuf & Michael Rubsamen in quarters, and Campolindo’s David Gomez-Siu & Sophie Stankus in semis.

The 2016 tournament marked the second consecutive year a Los Altos hybrid took home the championship at Dempsey-Cronin, and the third year that Dembner reached finals. In 2014, Dembner and partner Steven Herman dropped in finals against Cupertino/Archbishop Mitty hybrid Jigar Shah & Hersh Solanki. Dembner earned the championship with Herman in 2015 against Cupertino/Sequoia hybrid Shankara Srikantan & Kushagra Sharma.

Meanwhile, Shukla & Zielinski emerged with a strong 4-1 record from the preliminary rounds. On their path to finals, the pair defeated Cupertino’s Adiyan Kaul & Sohan Vichare in double-octos, Jesuit’s Olivia Fu & Max Schlenker in octos, Valley Christian’s Sai Alisetty & Katherine Ho in quarters, and Los Altos’ Shirley Cheng & Ryan Lee in semis.

Due to an initial entry cap of 4 teams per division per school, the consistently popular tournament had a significant number of teams waitlisted in the week prior to the tournament. Most waitlisted teams were eventually taken in, and the invitational featured 98 debate teams from around the state in the open division and another 98 in the novice division.

The large field size landed the champions 31 points, but it also made the break to elimination rounds even more challenging. However, this break was substantially better than the previous year, when 92 open entries were narrowed to 16 teams in elimination rounds.

Evergreen closed out the speaker awards in the open division: Shukla & Zielinski took first and third respectively, while teammates Ayush Shukla and Kushal Sharma filled in the second and fourth slots. In the novice division, Davis’s Anna Seahill, Homestead’s Mila Forbes, and Davis’s Arianna High earned the highest speaker points, in order from first to third.

In the novice division, Evergreen Valley’s Jenna Bao & Winnie Dong defeated Valley Christian’s Shaan Parol & Tejas Rao after successfully affirming the resolution, “The United States federal government should end cabotage provisions of the Jones Act,” on a 3-0 decision. Evergreen Valley was defeated in the final novice round last year, but was able to take home the win this year.

With the final round ending a bit past 7 on Sunday evening, the tournament wrapped up much more promptly than usual.


Los Altos/Notre Dame Spencer Dembner & Lilly Hackworth def. Irvington Rishabh Meswani & William Yoo (2-1)

Los Altos Shirley Cheng & Ryan Lee def. Evergreen Valley Jwalin Joshi & Aditya Mehta (3-0)

Valley Christian Sai Alisetty & Katherine Ho def. CK McClatchy Will Flores-Jones & Kainoa Lowden (2-1)

Evergreen Valley Poojan Shukla & Marek Zielinski def. Jesuit Olivia Fu & Max Schlenker (3-0)

Evergreen Valley Anirudh Mani & Janav Sharma def. Los Altos Alex Wong & William Zeng (3-0)

Bentley Irene Partsuf & Michael Rubsamen def. Prospect Meera Keskar & Mehak Sharma (2-1)

Campolindo David Gomez-Siu & Sophie Stankus def. Cupertino Yash Rajwanshi & Leo Rassieur (3-0)

Los Altos Zooey Nguyen & Jonathan Shi def. Irvington Sampreet Moturi & Rachit Pareek (3-0)


Los Altos/Notre Dame Dembner & Hackworth def. Bentley Partsuf & Rubsamen (3-0)

Los Altos Cheng & Lee def. Evergreen Valley Mani & Sharma (2-1)

Evergreen Valley Shukla & Zielinski def. Valley Christian Alisetty & Ho (2-1)

Campolindo Gomez-Siu & Stankus def. Los Altos Nguyen & Shi (3-0)


Los Altos/Notre Dame DH def. Campolindo GS (3-0)

Evergreen Valley SZ def. Los Altos CL (3-0)


Los Altos/Notre Dame DH def. Evergreen Valley SZ (3-2)

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.