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MIT Taekwondo Kicks Back at Cornell Meet

By Radhika Jagannathan

TEAM MEMBER

The MIT Sport Taekwondo team took an overall second to Cornell at the INCTL tournament held there on Saturday, Nov. 22. The relatively small number of total competitors and the massive team Cornell was able to field at home helped them win back some pride after their loss to MIT at the same tournament one year ago. MIT now lags behind Cornell by 168 points in the overall league standings.

MIT had a strong performance in the forms competition. Richard Sinn ’06 clinched the gold in a huge men’s Black Belt division, while Erica Y. Chan ’07 took silver in women’s Black Belt with her stunning sidekicks. Both MIT men and women Red Belts did well, with Margaret H. Cho ’04 placing first in a large, competitive division and Bobby B. Ren ’05 taking third. MIT women dominated in Blue Belt forms with Stephanie K. Lee ’06 taking first and Radhika Jagannathan ’05 taking second. Likewise, MIT brought the best men’s Green Belt forms in the league with Brandon R. Kam ’06 taking first and Ryan B. Huang ’06 clinching second after performing his form three times to win a three-way tie. Rene R. Chen ’07 made the team proud by placing third in the White/Yellow Belt division at her first tournament ever.

The women’s A1 team (Chan, Wendy M. G. Pierce ’05, Cho) finished third after a loss to the Cornell A1. The team faced the two-man Princeton A1 team in their first match of the day. Middleweight Pierce used her height advantage to lead on head shots and used her footwork to keep her opponent away to clinch the match and push the A1 team into the semifinals. Though Chan won the lightweight semifinal match against Cornell A1 4-3, Pierce faced a very experienced middleweight and came up short. The deciding match was with heavyweight Cho who delivered two solid back kicks which would have tied the score at 2-2; however, the corner judges did not score the points even when the center referee stopped the match to poll the judges, costing the team the win.

The men’s A1 team (Ren, Conor F. Madigan G, Sinn, Andrew D. Selbst ’04, Alt.) sparred fantastically, finishing in second place. With the continual improvement of Ren and strategic alternating of Madigan and Sinn between the middle and heavyweight spots, the team easily advanced past the Royal Military College of Canada A2, University of. Buffalo A1, and Cornell A1 to the finals against the University of Pennsylvania A1. Though Madigan’s quick footwork and shrewd defense won him a huge come-from-behind 5-2 victory in the heavyweight spot, Sinn took a narrow loss on the middleweight round, and Ren was injured early in the match, forcing him to forfeit. The men finished in second place in the competitive division.

Both women’s C teams finished in third place. Women’s C1 (Sandra M. Yu ’06, Alicia Y. Zhou ’06, Mihae Chang ’07) advanced past a one-man team from Columbia and then lost to UPenn C1 in the semifinals, despite Yu’s 9-7 win. Women’s C2 (Rene R. Chen ’07, Sharon A. Lawrence ’07, Laurel J. Ng G) advanced 3-0 against Buffalo C1 before falling to Cornell C1 in the semifinals. Ng showed significant improvement, winning both of her matches to anchor the novice team.

Against all numerical odds, both men’s C1 (Kam, John C. Ho G, Taras Gorishny ’07) and C2 (Huang, Mike J. Childress ’05, Ben S. Lu ’07, Jerry W. Chao ’05, Alt.) placed, clinching second and third in an enormous division, featuring nine full C teams from Cornell alone. All three C1 men sparred aggressively to advance past Cortland C2, Westpoint C3, and Cornell C1, with a notable 9-0 shutout by Kam in the semifinals. The team lost to New York University C1 in the finals to take the silver.

Meanwhile, MIT C2 advanced past Cornell C4 and Cortland C1 to the quarterfinals against West Point C4. A strategic move by coaches Christina S. Park G and Richard Sinn placed Chao in to hold the lightweight spot and bumped up experienced Huang to middleweight. Despite a nine inch and thirty pound difference, Huang used his speed and quick footwork to out-maneuver his opponent, taking the team to the semifinals, where they were defeated by eventual-champions, NYU C1. When asked about his experience sparring middleweight, Huang had this to say: “Me being a gigantic 5’3” and 137 pounds, you could say I was a little nervous going in the ring. I quickly found out that thirty pounds is hard to work. ... I remember scoring a solid shot right in the middle of his chest and just staggering backward from the recoil.”

The MIT women’s B1 team (Jaime Lien ’05, Delphine M. D. Dean G, Cho) advanced past a two-woman UPenn team but fell to a strong Cornell B2 to take the bronze in the intermediate division. Despite losses by Lien and Dean, Cho stepped up to spar the heavyweight to whom she had lost in the A1 semifinals. Leaving no room for error, she sparred with confidence, clearly dominating with kicks out of the clinch to win 3-1.

The men’s B1 team (Ren, Ho, Gorishny) returned to their hallowed position in first place of B team sparring. The team advanced past Buffalo, Cornell B3, and UPenn B1 with solid wins all around, including a knockout by Ren in the quarterfinals. Despite a surprising loss by Ren in the finals against NYU B1, Gorishny fought a grueling match against the same NYU heavyweight he had lost to in C-team finals. But Gorishny’s herculean effort was not in vain, for he won the match 9-8, leaving Ho to spar the decisive match. Ho came through with a spectacular 5-1 win, clinching the gold for the intermediate team.

MIT finished in second place overall, 140 points behind Cornell, but almost 200 points ahead of third place U. Penn. The team looks forward to its next competition at Princeton University in February.