Mehak Sharma

Los Altos Sweeps MLK Invitational

Mehak Sharma
Los Altos Sweeps MLK Invitational
                                           Co-champions pose for a photo. 

                                           Co-champions pose for a photo. 

From left to right: Ryan Lee, Shirley Cheng,   Lilly Hackworth, and Spencer Dembner. 

From left to right: Ryan Lee, Shirley Cheng,  Lilly Hackworth, and Spencer Dembner. 

With undefeated records, the hybrid duo of Los Altos’s Spencer Dembner & Notre Dame’s Lilly Hackworth and Los Altos’s Shirley Cheng & Ryan Lee reached the final round of James Logan’s annual Martin Luther King Invitational. The tournament culminated in a Los Altos close-out when it was decided that the two teams from the same school would share the championship.

The annual Martin Luther King Invitational witnessed a dramatic increase in entries since 2016. Last year, the tournament coincided with the Stanford Invitational, which led to fewer entries for both tournaments. This year, with no calendar conflicts in Northern California, parliamentary debate entries nearly doubled, jumping from 60 to 103 teams. Schools previously unseen at the tournament made their first appearances, such as Antelope High School and the Taipei American High School. In turn, the pool became more competitive, and the break of 31% of the field to double-octofinals was relatively harsh. 

Los Altos did not compete at the tournament in 2016 but returned victoriously this year. The school also took home first in small school sweepstakes, with Hattiesburg High School and the Helix Charter School following. Overall sweepstakes were awarded to Archbishop Mitty High School, Bellarmine College Prep, Palo Alto High School, Gabrielino High School, and Cupertino High School, in order.

On their way to finals, Cheng & Lee defeated Cupertino’s Michelle Huang & Shankara Srikantan in octofinals, Nueva’s Leo Rossi & Neeraj Sharma in quarterfinals, and walked over Notre Dame/Los Altos’s Daenerys Pineda & Daniel Vesurai in semifinals, who forfeited the round as the lower seed from the same school. Meanwhile, Dembner & Hackworth triumphed over Stockdale’s Viren Parmar & Reena Somani in octofinals, Lowell’s Emily Moon & James Sutton in quarterfinals, and Campolindo’s Austen Li & Ming Qian in semifinals.

The tournament opened its doors on Friday afternoon and ran well into the weekend, with three preliminary rounds on Friday, another two prelims and double-octofinals on Saturday, and the remaining elimination rounds on Sunday. As the tournament came to a close on Sunday afternoon, many debaters expressed their satisfaction that the tournament stayed on schedule for the entirety of the weekend.


Campolindo Austen Li & Ming Qian def. Berkeley Uma Nagarajan & Talia Wolf-Jacobs

Irvington Reetam Ganguli & Isha Sanghvi def. Archbishop Mitty Ana-Gertrudes Gonzalvez & Mayank Killedar

Bellarmine Shubhankar Gaur & Vishaal Jagannadhan def. Turlock Lucas Bartell & Drew Gomez

Notre Dame/Los Altos Daenerys Pineda & Daniel Vesurai def. Dougherty Valley Mohsin Rangwala & Arman Sawhney

Los Altos Shirley Cheng & Ryan Lee def. Cupertino Michelle Huang & Shankara Srikantan

Nueva Leo Rossi & Neeraj Sharma def. Cupertino Adiyan Kaul & Sohan Vichare

Los Altos/Notre Dame Spencer Dembner & Lilly Hackworth def. Stockdale Viren Parmar & Reena Somani

Lowell Emily Moon & James Sutton def. Notre Dame Sahithi Madireddy & Christie Maly


Campolindo Li & Qian def. Irvington Ganguli & Sanghvi

Notre Dame/Los Altos Pineda & Vesurai def. Bellarmine Gaur & Jagannadhan

Los Altos Cheng & Lee def. Nueva Rossi & Sharma

Los Altos/Notre Dame Dembner & Hackworth def. Lowell Moon & Sutton


Los Altos/Notre Dame DH def. Campolindo LQ

Los Altos CL def. Notre Dame/Los Altos PV


Los Altos/Notre Dame DH and Los Altos CL (n/a)

Tournament results can be found here.

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