After kicking off 2010 with a tournament title at the Victory Briefs Tournament in Los Angeles, Harker Speech and Debate has raised the bar again, winning three more tournament titles over the last two weeks.
Two weeks ago, 11 Harker students flew to North Carolina to compete in the Myers Park Laird Lewis Invitational. Eight students managed to make it to elimination rounds in Public Forum debate, including four Gr. 8 students. After attending the Harker Forensics Institute over the summer and applying their skills in the fall, six middle school students were invited to compete in the high school novice division of this national invitational. Jithin Vellian and Kevin Duraiswamy, both Gr. 8, made it to the round of 16 while classmates Stephanie Lu and Neil Khemani advanced to the quarterfinals (top eight) in the tournament.
In the varsity division, Kelsey Hilbrich, Gr. 12 and Frederic Enea, Gr. 10, beat a team from Ohio to claim the Laird Lewis title. Junior Justine Liu and sophomore Akshay Jagadeesh advanced to the round of 16 and earned their first bid to the Public Forum Tournament of Champions.
Both varsity teams attending the Laird Lewis were also invited to compete in the Public Forum Challenge. This elite tournament issues their invitations in the fall to the top 16 teams in the country. The challenge included the other two teams who won PF National Championship Titles in the 2008-09 season. While Liu and Jagadeesh were eliminated after four rounds of the challenge, the TOC National Champion Hilbrich and current partner Enea remained undefeated throughout the entire challenge, including beating both the returning member of the 2009 Grand National Championship team in the semifinal round and the complete 2009 NFL National Championship team in the final round on a 4-1 decision.
Over the three-day weekend, 16 Harker students traveled up to Union City to compete in the James Logan Martin Luther King Jr. Tournament. With competitors from five states in attendance, eleven Harker students made it to elimination rounds. Zina Jawadi, Gr. 8, became the first Harker middle school student to clear the elimination rounds in a high school varsity speech event, making it to quarterfinals in Expository Speaking. Freshmen Aneesh Chona and Anuj Sharma, sophomores Revanth Kosaraju and Ishan Taneja, as well as juniors Christine Chien and James Seifert made it to the round of 32 in Public Forum debate. In the round of 16, the team of Justine Liu and Jagadeesh were seeded to hit junior Ziad Jawadi and sophomore Aakash Jagadeesh. As the higher seed, Jawadi and Aakash were advanced over Liu and Akshay to the quarterfinal round. Both teams earned their second qualifying leg to the Public Forum Tournament of Champions, setting a new record for Harker qualifications in the event. Jawadi and Aakash Jagadeesh promised their teammates that they would try to win the tournament after eliminating another Harker team’s chance at the title.
In a 5-0 decision in finals against a team from Colorado, Jawadi and Aakash claimed the James Logan MLK 2010 Public Forum Championship title.
During the weekend of Jan. 23, students will compete in the NCFL Grand Nationals Qualifier in Sacramento and the Golden Desert National Invitational in Las Vegas.