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MIT Taekwondo Defeats Rival

By Christopher Hopeman

TEAM MEMBER

The taekwondo rivalry between MIT and Cornell continued this past weekend at the 19th annual Yale Invitational, where MIT once again edged out their longtime rival for a tournament win, this time by a scathingly thin three point margin. The Yale tournament was the fourth of five Ivy-Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League (INCTL) tournaments for the 2003-2004 season, and was well attended by over 200 competitors from fourteen area schools.

As in tournaments past, MIT took an early lead in the morning after the forms, or “poomse” competition, with a 93-point lead over the next closest competitor. Notable medalists include first place wins by Richard Sinn ’05, Erica Chan ’07, Margaret H. Cho ’04 , Jerry Chao ’05, and Rene Chen ’07. For a full list of forms and sparring category winners, please see page 19.

MIT women dominate

The pace for sparring in the afternoon was set early by the women’s A1 team (Erica Chan, Nancy Archambault G, Margaret Cho, and Rosemary Pike ’07), who defeated all three Cornell teams in a row during their successful bid for a gold medal. Their first match was telling of their eventual run, with Chan obliterating her opponent 19-1, and tournament MVP Archambault shutting out her opponent 13-0. In her sparring competition debut, Pike won her first match with three consecutive kicks to the head. Chan clinched the win in the finals for the women’s advanced bracket with only two seconds on the clock by executing an axe kick to the head.

The women’s C1 team also took the gold in their division, but with only two competitors, Rene Chen and Sharon Lawrence ’07. This unprecedented victory means that both Chen and Lawrence were undefeated in their plow through the women’s C-team bracket.

Men take silver at all levels

The men, not to be outdone, were able to win second place in the A, B, and C-team competitions. The afternoon started with Ryan Huang ’06 in his A-team debut winning his first match 9-2 as part of men’s A2. Richard Sinn propelled the men’s A1 team (including Bobby Ren ’05, Nathan Hanagami ’04, and George C. Whitfield G) into the finals by defeating his own personal rival Dan Han of Penn before eventually succumbing to favored UMass-Boston.

Directly after three exhausting rounds on the C-bracket, John Ho ’04 and Mike Berg G immediately competed on the men’s B-bracket with Bobby Ren yet again and went all the way to the finals, ending in perhaps the most exciting match of the tournament. With the lightweight and middleweight matches split 1-1 between MIT B1 and Cornell B1, all eyes were on the heavyweight match with Berg. In the middle of the first round, Berg dislocated his shoulder to everyone’s dismay. Showing true heart and grit, Berg popped his shoulder back into place and finished out the first round before ceding the win to Cornell’s B1.

The rivalry tightens

With the upcoming Columbia Invitational the sole remaining tournament of the season, the pressure is on MIT to retain the INCTL title that they captured from Cornell last year. Although Cornell leads the current season by only 150 points with possibly 1684 points up for grab at Columbia, each of the last four tournaments (split evenly between MIT and Cornell) have been won by less than 140 points. The tournament this past weekend was a case in point, where MIT won with 513 points to Cornell’s 510.

MIT’s success will depend heavily on how many competitors they can field for the tournament in New York City on April 24. Not only will MIT need to maintain their dominance in the forms competition, but they will also have to exemplify the depth of both their women’s and men’s sparring teams. With MIT’s primary teams already showing superiority, it will take their secondary teams in the advanced, intermediate, and beginning sparring groups to shut out Cornell and keep the INCTL title.

Before the last INCTL tournament, however, MIT will be fielding a strong team at the Collegiate Nationals in Bridgeport, Connecticut the weekend of April 17. In addition for the chance to prove MIT’s dominance in taekwondo at the national level, black belts have the opportunity to qualify for Collegiate Team Trials, which is a gateway to Team USA.