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Sport TKD Finishes 2nd Behind Cornell 541-460 Tufts in 3rd with 200, MIT Maintains INCTL Lead

By Ziyan Chu

Only three weeks after hosting the first tournament of the 2006-2007 Ivy Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo (INCTL) season, MIT sport taekwondo sent 36 competitors to Cornell University this past weekend in an exhausting yet thrilling tournament, placing second among fifteen teams with 460 points.

Among the schools represented were Harvard University, Columbia University, Tufts University, and a newcomer to the league, University of Michigan. Cornell won with 541 points, but MIT still holds the lead for the season with 1008 points to Cornell’s 918.

MIT began the day with high scores in the poomse (forms) competition. In this portion of the tournament, athletes are able to demonstrate the more artistic side of taekwondo in a choreographed sequence of blocks, punches, and kicks.

Erica Y. Chan ’07 placed third in the highly competitive women’s black belt division.

With an amazing display of power and flexibility, both Richard-Duane S. Chambers G and Rene R. Chen ’07 placed first in their respective men’s and women’s red belt divisons.

In the blue belt division, Christopher J. Han ’09 took first in the men’s competition while Christine M. Lee ’09 and Corinna Hui ’09 earned first and third respectively in the women’s. All three competitors had consistently placed as green belts, and after earning blue belts only two weeks before the tournament they continued to lead against new opponents.

Ning Wu G took first and Otoniel Tabares ’09 followed closely with third place in the men’s green belt division. Jaclyn J. Ho ’09 tied for first in the women’s green belt division and, in an exciting turn of events, performed her form a second time. After seeing her exceptional strength and agility, the judges awarded her first place.

Also in that division was EunMee Yang ’07, who placed third. In another challenging division, Elisabeth M. Markham ’09 and Miranda J. Ha ’07 place first and second respectively among women’s white and yellow belts.

The sparring competitions that followed provided a different challenge. In individual women’s black belt sparring, JiHye Kim ’10 breezed through several matches to place first in her division.

In the advanced (A team) sparring division, Women’s A1 (Chan, Chen, Sharon A. Lawrence ’07, and Ziyan Chu ’07) easily advanced to the finals, where Chan came from behind to even out the score against a tough Cornell competitor but the rest of the team couldn’t prevail, leading to a second place overall finish.

Up next were the beginner’s (D team) sparring divisions, which gave the upper belts a chance to rest and cheer on their new teammates. Newcomer Stephanie C. Chan ’09, the lone competitor in Women’s D1, made her way to the top of her bracket and in a new team record, won her match 10–0 in only 26 seconds. Despite starting the sport of Taekwondo a mere eight weeks ago, she placed first in her division.

In the novice (C team) divisions, both men’s and women’s teams fought in excellent matches against MIT’s rival school, Cornell. Women’s C1 (Ha, Yang, Markham) made it to the finals and came in second to the more experienced Cornell Women’s C1. Ha fought beautifully using advanced tactics to win her match 10–0.

Last came the intermediate (B team) division. In the semifinals, Women’s B2 (Jennifer L. Caplin ’07, Lee, Hui) fought Michigan B1. In a classic MIT move, Caplin won her round with a score of 8–4 after being down 2–3 after the first half. Hui scored on her opponent several times using her signature inside turning kick but lost the round in a close fight to a more experienced competitor. Women’s B2 placed third in this tough division.

On the other side of the bracket, Women’s B1 (Chen, Lawrence, Chu) advanced with two victories into the finals to fight the same Michigan B1 team. This time, the MIT team was relentless. Chen easily beat her opponent 12–7, while Lawrence lost 4–5. After being down 4–6 in the first half, Chu came back into the ring with the advice of coach Conor F. Madigan G, scoring a head shot on her opponent in the last seconds of the round and winning 15–14, which gave the Women’s B1 team a first finish in their division.

The Men’s B1 (Wu, Chambers, Han) team advanced match after match under the guidance of their coach Master Daniel B. Chuang in one of the most difficult divisions of the tournament, meeting rivals Cornell B1 in the finals.

Wu lost in a close round 9–10. Han fought with his usual cool grace, scoring on his opponent with several beautiful double kicks, but couldn’t overcome his weight disadvantage, so that the Men’s B1 placed second in their division.

The next INCTL meet is in Feb. 2007 at New York University.