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Taekwondo Opens With 1st Place Tie

By Christina Park

TEAM CAPTAIN

MIT’s Sport Taekwondo Club tied for first place with Cornell at the first Ivy/Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League tournament of the spring season on March 2.

The tournament day began with the forms competition, where each student performed a choreographed set of techniques to be judged on merits such as grace, balance, power, and agility. Christina S. Park ’02 tied for first place but lost the tie-breaker to come away with the silver in the women’s black belt division.

Margaret H. Cho ’04 and Baochi Nguyen G tied for second place and repeated their form for the judges for a tie-breaker. Cho prevailed and the pair maintained their dominance in the women’s green/blue belt division, taking the silver and bronze, respectively.

The sparring competition began with the black belt teams. The women’s black belt A1 team of Nguyen, Tiffany A. Kanaga ’04, and Park faced Cornell A2 in the first round. Cornell forfeited their lightweight match and Kanaga easily beat their middleweight. Park won her match 7-1, advancing the team to the semi-finals, where they met West Point. Though the Army women were formidable, MIT topped them 2-1 to advance to the finals, where they lost to Cornell’s A1 team to finish the day in second place.

Men take bronze in black belt

The men’s black belt A1 team of William R. Sanchez ’05, Eng Sew Aw G, and Chinedum Osuji G was the strongest in the brackets, and they advanced easily through University of Pennsylvania A1 and West Point before meeting George Washington University in the semi-finals. Sanchez looked especially strong, and despite a significant height disadvantage he left his West Point opponent dazed after several head kicks. In his tournament debut, Aw sparred with intensity, winning his semi-final match with a score of 5-1. Osuji anchored the team as always, but he lost the decision of the semi-final heavyweight match and the team ended the day with a bronze.

Picking up the momentum from the black belts, the men’s and women’s color belt teams advanced the medal count as well. The women’s B1 team (Nguyen, Melissa Barbagelata G, and Cho) came away in second place, having defeated Yale, Cornell, and Harvard, before meeting NYU in the finals, which was lost closely, as Barbagelata was forced to withdraw due to injury. Cho was 4-0 on the day, showing significant improvement since her last competition.

More bronze for men’s B1 team

The men’s B1 team of Simon Bocanegra-Thiel ’04, Juan I. Rodriguez ’04, Andrew T. Yue ’03, and Vladislav Gabovich G finished the day successfully for the team, advancing through the brackets and meeting Cornell B1, the eventual champions, in the semi-finals. Though Bocanegra-Thiel lost the lightweight match to an advanced red belt, Rodriguez showed sheer willpower and desire to win, winning a very emotional match against their middleweight. Yue came close in the deciding heavyweight match, but Cornell won in the end and the men finished with a bronze, tying the team overall for first place.

The win was a major milestone for the Sport Taekwondo Club, since Cornell has been the league’s dominating team for many years. The team heads to Columbia University on April 6 for the next INCTL tournament.