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Sport Taekwondo Wins Tourney

By Rosemary Pike

Last weekend the MIT Sport Taekwondo team attended the Yale Tournament, the first league tournament since October. MIT saw high-scoring matches with its competitors dominating their opponents, as well as nail-biting, last-second points that resulted in overtime, sudden-death rounds. But MIT once again brought home the trophy in style, taking top spot among the twelve participating colleges.

In the first sparring matches of the day, the black belt competitors (the A teams) faced off. The two MIT women’s teams had taken first and second at the previous two tournaments. Women’s A2 (Rene R. Chen ’07, Maria Parra-Orlandoni G, and Ziyan Chu ’07) continued to control the field, defeating one Cornell team in an awesome quarterfinal match. The team lost in a competitive round to West Point in the semi-finals, but beat Cornell’s top women’s A team in the fight for third place. It was an exciting round, with Parra-Orlandoni and Chen fighting to stay ahead. On the other side of the bracket, MIT A1 (Alicia Y. Zhou ’06, Sharon A. Lawrence ’07, and Rosemary E. Pike ’07) beat Harvard and demolished the Cornell A1 team, Zhou winning with a technical knock out. In the finals against West Point, Lawrence stayed strong against a tough opponent and Pike fought a very close match, losing 7-9. Both MIT women’s teams placed, taking bronze and silver, respectively.

The men’s sparring competition was fierce. MIT A1 (Bobby B. Ren G, Richard Sinn ’06, and Forrest W. Liau ’06) plowed through the bracket. Ren, who placed bronze in the forms competition earlier that day, made things extra exciting, winning two of his matches in overtime, sudden death.

The A2 team (John T. Wong ’06, Eddie Lei ’09, and Thomas B. Wilson G) lost in their first round against an experienced team from Brown University. Lei made his sparring debut as the middleweight and barely lost 8-9, and Wilson showed his experience, completely neutralizing the Brown heavyweight’s attacks for the team’s sole win.

The C teams were next to spar, and they showed MIT’s depth. All of the C teams had started taekwondo as PE students in the first quarter Fall 2005 PE class or later, but were now at the top of their division. Both of the women’s C teams only had two fighters, but that didn’t stop Corinna Hui ’09 and Christine M. Lee ’09 from beating Temple and Cornell to take second place. Lee, who had also won a silver medal in forms earlier, won her first match by a whopping 14-3, but Hui would not be outdone, and won hers 20-1.

The men’s team, Steven H. Petraeus ’09, Christopher J. Han ’09 (forms gold medalist), and Hector C. Vargas ’09, did well in a tough bracket. Petraeus won his first match 8-0, using MIT’s signature inside game to his advantage. Han used his speed and power to completely outclass his opponents, scoring with multiple kicks at each exchange. After two clean wins, the team lost by a sudden death to Yale, taking the third place trophy.

The day ended with B-Team sparring. As usual, the MIT team stepped up. Hui and Lee, the C team dynamic duo, competed as a two-person B team, beating Temple to take third.

The very experienced B1 team of Chu, Lawrence, and Chen (who won gold in forms) dominated the bracket. Chu, just recently returned from Cambridge, England, clinched the first round in a close 8-7 match. Chen’s kicks were “so fluid, and her foot found its way to her opponent’s head like bees to honey,” said coach Sinn.

The day became even more exciting as the men’s B teams began to spar. Men’s B2 (Petraeus, Jaroslaw Labaziewicz G, and Iliya T. Tsekov ’08) advanced easily past the first round but lost in a close quarterfinals match. Petraeus made his B team debut, and Labaziewicz dominated his opponent 11-5. Tsekov took his match in overtime for the win.

The B1 team (Wong, Richard D. Chambers G, and Liau) followed the tradition of fighting the closest match of the tournament at the very end of the day. They faced Cornell in the finals, where Wong won in sudden death. Chambers made some impressive headshots and scored with a twist-kick (rather unusual in this style), but lost in the last few seconds. Liau fought a close match until he landed two headshots in the last 15 seconds, securing another first place for MIT’s B1 team.

As the day ended, the MIT team was exhausted and exhilarated. They had scored a total of 563 points, taking first place. West Point was second with 325, and Cornell was third with 205 points. This brought MIT’s year total to 1873 points, with second place at a distant 839. In spite of this incredible lead, the team is still working hard and planning to end the year strong at Columbia on April 29.