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MIT Taekwando Finishes Second at Cornell Northeast, Ivy Tourney

By Christina Park

TEAM COACH

Last Sunday, the MIT Sport Taekwondo Club sent a 34 member team to New York for the first Ivy/Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League tournament of the 2003-2004 season. After a long day of competition, the MIT students emerged in second place.

The tournament day began with forms competition, where each student performed a choreographed set of techniques to be judged on merits such as grace, balance, power, and agility. The women continued their dominance from last year, sweeping nearly half the available medals with a first place finish from Wendy M. Pierce ’05 (black belt), and second and third places by Margaret H. Cho ’04 and Jaime Lien ’05 (red belt), Grace Y. Kim G and Delphine M. D. Dean G (blue belt), and Stephanie K. Lee ’06 and Sandra M. Yu ’06 (green belt). The beginner and intermediate men also added to the medal count, with a first and second place finish by Ryan B. Huang ’06 and Brandon R. Kam ’04 in the green belt division, and a gold in the yellow belt division by John C. Ho G.

After a brief break, sparring began with the black belt teams. The women’s black belt A1 team (Erica Y. Chan ’07, Nancy J. Archaumbault G, and Cho) received a bye in the first round and then faced Cornell A2. Despite being illegally punched in the face twice, Chan responded by kicking the tall lightweight in the face twice, and Archaumbault followed by dominating the timid middleweight to advance the team into the semi-finals.

The West Point A1 women were fierce, and the lightweight came out strong to take the match. Cho faced the heavyweight and won on a 3-3 tie decision to leave the team with the deciding match on the middleweights. Archaumbault was the unfortunate recipient of a bad judgement call from the referee when she sprained her ankle, but was disqualified for failure to continue. Despite the appeal and protest for an injury time-out by her coach and several officials, the team was eliminated and finished in third place.

The men’s black belt A1 team (Nima Viseh ’07, Conor F. Madigan G, and Richard J. Sinn ’06) avenged their counterparts with a spectacular performance. Madigan and Sinn anchored the team, clearly outclassing the Cornell A3 team in their first round. Although Sinn had to bump up to heavyweight, he held his own and won convincingly with his speed and experience. They continued to dominate against West Point A2 with several axe kicks by Madigan and solid points by Sinn. They met their rivals, Cornell A1, in the semi-finals, where Sinn and Madigan strategically switched the middle and heavyweight spots. Although Cornell’s middleweight was a tournament legend from his undergraduate days, Sinn continued to prove himself as one of the most talented competitors in the league with a clear win to give the team momentum. Viseh came through with a big 4-2 win over the lightweight to advance the team to the finals, where they bowed out to the Canadian Royal Military Academy because of injury.

Picking up the momentum from the black belts, the women’s beginner team (Lee, Laurel J. Ng G, and Yu) advanced the medal count as well. The women showed no fear as they plowed through Temple C1 and LeHigh C1 to reach the finals against John Jay. Yu started off the rally with a blowout 20-0 win against the heavyweight, the highest scoring match of the entire tournament. Although Ng gained aggression with every match, she was unable to pull it out in the end, and the deciding match came down to Lee. The John Jay lightweight was aggressive, but Lee used quick steps and a good sense of distance to spar intelligently and keep her away to clinch the match and a gold medal for the team.

Although the intermediate teams had been the key to MIT’s success in the last season, graduation and promotions caused the team to lose much of its depth on both the men’s and women’s sides. The women’s B2 team (Radhika Jagannathan ’05, Lee, and Yu) squeaked into third place when NYU bowed out, and they fell 0-3 to Cornell B1, the eventual champions. The men’s B1 team (Bobby B. Ren ’05, Ho, and Andrew D. Selbst ’04) advanced past two rounds, anchored by the experience and continual improvement of Ren. Ho showed a lot of heart in his first tournament back from a torn PCL, with a phenomenal sense of timing and distance in this new division. Selbst used his size and strength to overpower his opponents, though carelessness for blocking to the head caused him to lose a 7-7 tie decision in the semi-finals.

MIT trails Cornell by a nominal margin of 404 to 432 as the season begins, and looks to rebuild and come out strong as the defending INCTL Champions at the next INCTL tournament, which is to be held at Cornell University on November 22nd. In the meantime, several members (Chan, Nathan F. Hanagami ’04, Archaumbault, and Madigan) and alum Christina S. Park ’02 will travel to Seattle, Washington, for the National Collegiate Taekwondo Championships on Nov. 7-8.