Mehak Sharma

Los Altos/Notre Dame Conquer Stanford

Mehak Sharma
Los Altos/Notre Dame Conquer Stanford

Welcoming over 120 teams in varsity and junior varsity alike, the 31st Annual Stanford University Invitational commenced bright and early on the morning of February 11th. Despite its enormity, the tournament remained ahead of schedule for the majority of its duration.

After six preliminary and five elimination rounds, the tournament narrowed down to a final match between Los Altos/Notre Dame hybrid Spencer Dembner & Lilly Hackworth and Ashland’s John Ropp & Rob Stallman on Monday afternoon. Dembner & Hackworth triumphed on a 3-0 decision, successfully affirming the resolution, “The United States federal government should abolish the cap on legal immigration," with advantages regarding the positive impacts of immigration on border safety and economic growth.

Tournament champions Lilly Hackworth & Spencer Dembner pose alongside finalists Rob Stallman & John Ropp after the final round.

Tournament champions Lilly Hackworth & Spencer Dembner pose alongside finalists Rob Stallman & John Ropp after the final round.

During prelims, Dembner & Hackworth maintained a 5-1 record to position themselves as the fifth seed going into elimination rounds, in which they proceeded to defeat Prospect’s Vikram Dattatri & Ameya Thakur in double octofinals, Campolindo’s David Gomez-Siu & Sophie Stankus in octofinals, Cupertino’s Nikhil Agrawal & Shankara Srikantan in quarterfinals, and Ashland’s Karl Moeglein & Elliott Mellon in semifinals.

Meanwhile, Ropp & Stallman overcame Archbishop Mitty’s Anish Patel & Aayush Sutaria in double octofinals, Evergreen Valley’s Poojan Shukla & Marek Zielinski in octofinals, Campolindo’s Austen Li & Ming Qian in quarterfinals, and Lowell’s Emily Hall & Frances Sutton in semifinals.

Ashland debaters put up a solid performance, securing two teams in the semifinal round. This year also notably marked the third consecutive finals appearance Dembner has had at Stanford, winning the tournament in 2015 and dropping in finals to Sonoma Academy's Connor Duncan & Aris Saxena in 2016. 

In a field of over 240 debaters, the top speaker award was claimed by Evergreen Valley's Poojan Shukla, followed by Los Altos's Spencer Dembner and teammate William Zeng, Henry M. Gunn High School's Eric Wang, and Los Altos's Alex Wong. 

Meanwhile, in the junior varsity division, Valley Christian’s Amber Lao & Elisa Zhang defeated Saratoga’s Malika Ahuja & Shiv Gupta on a 3-0 decision while affirming the resolution, “The United States federal government should fully subsidize college tuition." Irvington’s Ashka Patel, Claremont’s Alex Abarca, and Korea International’s Jake Jung received the division's top speaker accolades. 

The Stanford tournament once again brought together debate teams from around the world in the parliamentary debate event: this year, debaters from NSDA China and NSDA Korea were among the competitive mix. The high number of entries, with 124 teams, made the breaks to partial triples in the varsity division quite challenging, with all 4-2s advancing.

Impressively, despite the large entry pool, the system of online ballots, although initially confusing, allowed for eventual efficiency, as did the level of organization maintained by the parli prep room and tabroom staffers. Although the online system caused a few late arrivals of judges, debaters were satisfied with the Stanford Invitational. "The only problem was the communication between judges and students," said Leland debater Toby Simmons. "The tournament itself was run fairly smoothly." 


Lowell Emily Moon & James Sutton def. Los Altos Alex Wong & William Zeng (2-1)

Ashland Karl Moeglein & Elliott Mellon def. Foothill Technology Isaac Goldstein & Ryan Moore (3-0)

Evergreen Valley Gabriela Escobar & Connie Lu def. Cupertino Leo Rassieur & Adiyan Kaul (3-0)

Lowell David Miller Shevelev & Daniel Shin def. Campolindo Shannon Bonet & Sharon Yuan (2-1)

Los Altos/Notre Dame Spencer Dembner & Lilly Hackworth def. Prospect Vikram Dattatri & Ameya Thakur (2-1)

Campolindo David Gomez-Siu & Sophie Stankus w/o Campolindo Kevin Deng & Krish Visht (BYE)

Cupertino Nikhil Agrawal & Shankara Srikantan def. Los Altos Shirley Cheng & Ryan Lee (2-1)

Bentley Irene Partsuf & Michael Rubsamen def. Redlands East Valley Ian Finley & Duncan Glover (3-0)

Evergreen Valley Poojan Shukla & Marek Zielinski def. Crystal Springs Uplands Henry Ding & Alice Jiang (2-1)

Ashland John Ropp & Rob Stallman def. Archbishop Mitty Anish Patel & Aayush Sutaria (3-0)

Irvington Rishabh Meswani & William Yoo def. Lynbrook Kartik Rathi & Uday Tripathi (3-0)

Campolindo Austen Li & Ming Qian def. Redlands East Valley Angel Conches & Jonas Poggi (3-0)

Lowell Jaden Jarmel-Schneider & Fontanna Yee def. Claremont Georges Achy & Kavan Nakai (2-1)

Nueva Paco Poler & Neeraj Sharma def. Washington Shiranthi Jawahar & Sanjana Rajesh (3-0)

Irvington Shreya Barma & Tanisha Singh def. Carlsbad Alex DeTaboada def. Chad Hamner (2-1)

Lowell Emily Hall & Frances Sutton def. Notre Dame Daenerys Pineda & Pearlin Liu (3-0)


Ashland Moeglein & Mellon def. Lowell Moon & Sutton (2-1)

Lowell Shevelev & Shin def. Evergreen Escobar & Lu (3-0)

Los Altos/Notre Dame Dembner & Hackworth def. Campolindo Gomez-Siu & Stankus (2-1)

Cupertino Agrawal & Srikantan def. Bentley Partsuf & Rubsamen (2-1)

Ashland Ropp & Stallman def. Evergreen Valley Shukla & Zielinski (2-1)

Campolindo Li & Qian def. Irvington Meswani & Yoo (2-1)

Lowell Jarmel-Schneider & Yee def. Nueva Poler & Sharma (2-1)

Lowell Hall & Sutton def. Irvington Barma & Singh (2-1)


Ashland MM def. Lowell SM (3-0)

Los Altos/Notre Dame DH def. Cupertino AS (3-0)

Ashland RS def. Campolindo LQ (2-1)

Lowell HS w/o Lowell JY (BYE)


Los Altos/Notre Dame DH def. Ashland MM (3-0)

Ashland RS def. Lowell HS (2-1)


Los Altos/Notre Dame DH def. Ashland RS (3-0)

Tournament results 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.