Clay Spence Takes Berkeley

Berkeley Finalists Sarah Sachs & Clay Spence

BERKELEY, CA– Congratulations to Strake Jesuit’s Clay Spence for defeating The College Prep School’s Sarah Sachs to win the 2012 California Invitational. Clay is coached by by Jerry Christ, Chris Castillo, Daniel Imas, Todd Liipfert and Murvin Auzenne; Sarah is coached by Lexy Green, Becca Traber, Ben Clancy, Ben Holguin, and Sasha Arijanto.

Use hashtag #calNSD

  • Timothy Case

    I dont have time to engage in a flame war and dont want to largely because I feel for the sentiments that went in to most of these posts.  I respectfully disagree with some of the contents, but I didnt want some of things to just sit without any response from someone who helped in tab.  You can choose to berate these responses but you’ll just be waiting for a response that will never come so have fun.

    I feel like some of these responses expect Cal to be something it isnt and never has been.  I understand the judging was not great and I agree with many of the points that Scoggin made above, but Berkeley is a different tournament than others and when you have 350+ entries because schools are permitted 10+ entries (including those from school’s criticizing the quality of the tournament in this thread) you will wind up this way.  You can’t expect Berkely to be like Greenhill in terms of judging – that would just never be feasible.  Cal moved to MJP last year and has attempted to help debaters eliminate some of the size problem, but nothing will be a perfect solution.  I cant speak to the size issue.  That’s a Cal decision and something I dont have control over, but Cal has always been 300+.  If you dont want that tournament experience, then solve some of your problems with your feet and go elsewhere.  As a Director of a large local Bay Area program, I can say I want Cal to be like it is.  I know that people coming from afar with 1 or 2 entries would have reason to have a different opinion.  But this isnt something you are caught off guard by.   Its not an LD only tournament, or even a debate only tournament.  Hundreds of schools from dozens of States come for Speech, Congress, and other forms of debate not representated as well nationally as LD.   The schedule isn’t ideal but its Berkely – go dance with the hippies and eat a hot dog – you cant ask for a better at tournament location to spend that time you have then Cal.  I’d be pissed if Cal were housed in a hotel in hotel rooms with nothing to do in between like Blake but Blake isnt Cal.  Its nothing like Cal, so to make schedule comparisons seems to again be hoping its something its never been.  I have nothing to say about 8 rounds for PF…fair….I would be happy to recommend to the tournament on behalf of the people in this post that LD be moved to an off site high school 10 miles from the tournament with no internet, no Telegraph, and school lunch food for the number of rounds in LD to be increased.  Consider it done.

    I can say from a tab standpoint, we did the best that could be done on the judging front.  One person who compares the judge pool to a mine field I saw hanging around at the tournament and not judging!   Is there no desire to volunteer yourself for the judge pool to make it better?  I dont think you can complain when youre at the tournament and not in the pool and not desiring to get in the pool either voluntarily or for $.  On that note also….9 of the top 15 prefered judges at the tournament had 2 or 3 rounds of commitments and only 2 volunteered to judge beyond their commitment even when offered $ to do so.  I get coaching is important and some were paid to be there to do just that, but the judge pool (which is already limited as it is nationally) wont get magically better when the judges who are prefered that are there are being paid to coach and not being asked to judge, and with 3 hours in-between rounds I would think there would be tons of time for redos, running rounds, discussing strategies, cutting cards, etc. etc.  If we’re moving in the direction in this activity where the best judges are just paid to coach, than we have far greater problems than the judging at Berkely to worry about.  Those 7 judges would have gone a long way if used all rounds.  I know its just 7, but thats about 8% of the judges used each rounds and when you consider only 60% of the debates are getting high mutual prefs Round 4 and above, 7 judges really matter.  The outround judging was significantly better by comparison and where else do you see tab staff leave the tab room in early and late elims to ensure mutuality and preference?

    Yes, teams were not permitted to strike the 3 total judges put on the supplemental strike sheet.  Its interesting that at the same time people criticize the judging they also criticize having to rank judges on the preference sheet who were all former competitors and who have all judged LD debate rounds and outrounds before.  By striking them, you would actually increase the likelihood that you get the judges you are criticizing the tournament for.  Its a fair complaint if we’re at most other tournaments, but it doesnt seem to sit well in a world where we are critcizing the judge pool at large for being bad.  In addition, the online prefs were ranked out of 8 and then merged to a judge preference system of 5 to make the computers work properly.  So when you were rating a judge a 4, you were actually rating them a 7 or an 8 and for the record, NO ROUND with debaters with a down 2 record or better received anything worse than a mutual 3 and even those were reserved for undefeated rounds.  I get the mutual 1s, 2s and 3s weren’t great but as a result of switching to a 6 preference system, all of your 6, 7, and 8 judges became hard STRIKES.  Every debater thus wound up with at least 60 strikes if not more at the tournament.  Tell me a place anywhere you get that.

    Its not perfect, its not without faults, and it certainly is BIG, but its not being sold as something its not and given that is the case the extent of the criticism shouldnt be too severe (and to be fair..on this thread it isnt).  To suggest it should lose its bid status as either the #1 or #2 most nationally represented tournament and with bids on the West Coast already being low is to suggest something that would really hurt the programs that are lobbying for the change.  Bids are not just for the schools that can travel the most, the farthest, and pay the most money.  Local and regional students who dont get those opportunities deserve at least one chance and for many Berkeley is the only change all year for students in this position to have their chance to shine.  All things being equal those who criticize might be right, but not all things are equal with tournaments and shouldnt be.  If a Cal bid goes than youre saying a Harvard bid should as well.  Everyone okay with that?   If not, I only ask we not try to call a Dog a Cat and then berate the Dog for not being a Cat.  All those coaches considering this I ask that you talk to your program directors (if they arent the same) and consider the education and experience of the entire LD community, not just your own team before you make that step.  

    •  I have my complaints about scheduling of rounds which I understand is a completely different issue. However, for me the judging at Berkeley was not as bad as everyone kept making it out to be. Yes I got screwed by a terrible judge in one of my rounds, but that didn’t prevent me from doing well at the tournament. Sometimes we can’t get what we want and need to adapt to less qualified judges. Also, it’s not like the results of the tournament were really unpredictable, it seems to me like the out-round results were largely consistent with expectations. I know people will complain about the 4-2 screw and how a judge killed them there but that’s just Berkeley. There are 300+ competitors and that means there will be a really nasty 4-2 screw unless they break to something absurd like quadruple octafinals. Berkeley is not a tournament where you can expect to win every round because you’re a brilliant tech debater and if that was your strat coming in then you probably will be annoyed by the judging but honestly, that’s just sort of your fault.

    • Quinn Olivarez

      Tim, I will say that having me not judge is probably a benefit to the kids. I’m just trying to do my part to help the community.

  • Quinn Olivarez

    The judging was a mine field, and times got pretty boring in between. That being said, congrats to clay on winning and brian for quarters.

  • I hate having to say this because in the past Cal has been
    one of my favorite tournaments, but the quality of the tournament has declined
    to an extent that something must be done. I think the people that run the LD
    tab are incredibly helpful and do the best the can given the circumstances; the
    problems that I outline are most likely traceable to the Cal people rather than
    the LD people they bring in.


    The schedule is downright unacceptable. It takes them two
    full days from 7:45am to 9pm to complete 6 prelim rounds. I
    think that this is the slowest tournament I have ever attended. Despite the lax schedule, most of the prelims beyond presets still ran late. The reason for this is they run a full policy and full IE round in between flighted LD rounds. Apple valley gets all prelims done in less than 24 hours and turns a profit, Blake pays for hotel rooms to accomodate the size of the tournament and still turns a profit. There is no reason we should not expect similar levels of service like we get at those tournaments given the comparable fees we pay.


    There is 0 quality control on the judging, there are not
    even basic expectations that your judge has some LD experience. They also let
    you bring pretty much however many kids you want, ensuring the low quality of
    the pool. The MJP system had us rate 170 judges 1-8, forcing us to have 25 1s
    and 25 2s. I ran out of people we preferred after 12 people. I ran out of
    people whose name I recognized before I was done with twos. In addition, a huge
    chunk of these judges didn’t have paradigms. There was one judge on the list
    that I kid you not was listed as “DHS Judge 1.”


    They released a supplemental strike sheet during the
    tournament under which we were not only not allowed to strike the judge, but we
    were forced to rate them in the top half of prefs (1-4). The tournament invite
    says we get to use MJP and they break that promise when they don’t
    allow you to actually pref the judges the way you want to. My team didn’t use all
    of our strikes on the pref sheet and when I asked if I could shift those unused
    strikes to the supplemental they said no. Additionally if they have to push
    ballots (which happened to 20 of them in round 1) they ignore your prefs.


    This year was the worst iteration of Cal I have been to in
    the last 5 years. I have spoken with numerous other coaches that attended this
    year and they all feel the same way; Cal needs to announce serious changes
    about the schedule and quality control or their bid should be reduced.

    • To add a little more specificity, we would often have as much as 4-6 hours between prelim rounds which meant that, despite having round one start at 7:45AM we would not get done with the third round on the day until 8:30PM or later.

      • Just to add to what Scoggin said, for some reason Public Forum got 8 prelims, and we only got 6. That is absurd. 

        • Anonymous

          It’s because public forum is awesome.

          • They wanted to make sure that last final focus was really, really final

          • Anonymous

            Cross-fires until they run out of fire

  • Clay Spence Wins finals

  • Anonymous

    Hello from China.
    The Meadows RF def. Aliso Niguel RG 
    College Prep SS def. Mountain View NN

    The Meadows RF v. College Prep SS

    Props to Fink for bidding after a difficult year. 
    Congrats to Sarah rolling through Norcal.

  • Quarters

    College Prep SS v Mountain View NN
    NO Jesuit JP v Cypress Falls BH
    Strake Jesuit CS v Brentwood AG
    The Meadows RF v Aliso Niguel RG