Taekwondo Ekes Out A Win in 1st MatchBy Bobby Ren
The MIT Sport Taekwondo club kicked off its year strongly last Saturday at the first tournament of the season. The club sent a team of about 40 competitors to Ithaca, NY, home turf of long time rival Cornell University.
Despite the homecourt advantage and a size advantage by about 20 more competitors, Cornell could not stand up to MIT’s desire for victory and high quality competitors. Thanks to both experienced members and amazing rookies, MIT clinched the victory by a mere 14 points out of more than 600.
The team started off strong in forms competition, taking a 50 point lead over Cornell (leaving New York University in a much distant third.) Team co-captains Richard Sinn ’06 and Conor F. Madigan G took first and third in the prestigious men’s black belt forms division; Erica Y. Chan ’07 and Wendy M. G. Pierce ’05 mirrored that in the women’s black belt forms division.
Stephanie K. Lee ’06 and Delphine M. D. Dean G clinched the top two spots in the women’s red belt division. Ryan B. Huang ’06 and Laurel J. Ng G took second and third in the men’s and women’s blue belt divisions, respectively, and Rene R. Chen ’07 swept the women’s green belt division, earning a gold with her amazing front kicks. First timer JoHanna N. Przybylowski ’05 won her first medal with a 3rd place finish in a highly competitive women’s white belt division.
Knowing that Cornell would try to take the lead back, the MIT team turned it up for sparring rounds. The women’s A1 team set the pace by taking silver, losing to Cornell’s top black belt team in the finals. Chan continued to be the dominant lightweight, outscoring her opponents 25-11. Pierce used her five-kick-combos to score 25-25 in her final match before losing in a sudden death decision.
The men’s A1 team was clearly the most dominant team in the tournament, winning gold with a nearly perfect match record. Both Sinn and Madigan were undefeated. Madigan was able to score many points with his patented front leg ax kick counter. After being accidentally punched in the face in the semifinals, Sinn unleashed his fury on his NYU opponent, winning 11-1. Bobby B. Ren ’05, who was behind by one point in the final, scored two points in the last 5 seconds of the match to defeat his rival.
The women’s B1 team advanced to the finals after a nail-biting match where MIT scored only one point more than NYU, and two players won on a tie decision. Club president Radhika Jagannathan ’05 had a great comeback victory after being down in the first round. The team lost to an experienced Cornell A1 in the finals to get silver.
The women’s B2 team, consisting of Maia Mahoney ‘05, Chen, and Ng, had an amazing quarterfinals match, and their victory helped MIT place both women’s teams into point scoring positions.
The men’s B1 team, with Ren, John C. Ho G and Taras Z. Gorishnyy G, blew through a bracket flooded with Cornell teams. They defeated two lower ranked Cornell teams to meet their B1 rivals in the finals, where Ho and Gorishnyy used high section kicks to level the middle and heavyweight opponents.
The men’s B2 team had a great first round match against Columbia, where Huang and Stephen J. Kao ’05 used their footwork to outscore their opponents 19-3.
In the white to green belt C divisions, both mens and women’s teams received the gold thanks to experienced members and talented newcomers. Former champions Chen and Sharon A. Lawrence ’07 were joined by Ziyan Chu ’07, who started off her taekwondo career with a 7-5 win over the University of Buffalo’s heavyweight.
On the men’s side, all three teams had only two out of three players because no lightweight was available, but that didn’t stop them from each defeating at least one opponent. The C1 team of Gorishnyy and rookie Tri M. Ngo ’06, went undefeated to take the gold from Columbia University. Gorishnyy, having sparred in both B and C leagues before, exhibited power and dexterity in winning 10-2, and Ngo finished his first tournament with a perfect record after only having trained in taekwondo for 6 weeks.
MIT’s next tournament is on Oct. 23 at West Point. Already the team is actively training, and hopes to send a much larger team in three weeks, looking solidify their standing in the race for the cup.