Over the weekend of March 30, the MIT sport taekwondo team continued its tradition of success at the National Collegiate Taekwondo Championships, placing third among the thirteen competing schools.
This year's championships, held on the home turf of perennial rival Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas, provided newcomers the opportunity to test their skills, and also allowed seasoned members to match wits with some of the nation's top athletes.
By the end of the two-day event, the team had captured bronze medals in the Novice (Colored Belt) and Championship (Black Belt) Divisions, claimed bronze overall, and won some twenty individual awards. Most impressively, four MIT black belts — Captain John T. Wong G, Captain Erica Y. Chan '07, Alicia Y. Zhou '06, and Sharon A. Lawrence '07 — earned the right to compete for a chance to represent the United States at the World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand.
Day one of the national championship began in the late afternoon with team members competing in forms, the performance of uniform patterns of blocks and strikes. In emphasizing the power, accuracy, and rhythm of their motions, MIT competitors demonstrated why forms competition remains a traditional strength of the team and captured numerous medals across several divisions designated by weight and rank.
Among the colored belts, Tylor J. Hess '10 and Stephanie E. Nix '09 took third among white/yellow belts, while Miranda J. Ha '07 and Richard-Duane S. Chambers G took second in their respective groups. Han Zhu '09, Stephanie R. Chiang '08, and Ning Wu G, meanwhile, prevailed with gold medals.
Black belt competitors performed equally well, despite the high level of competition they faced. Zhou, John C. Ho G, Bobby B. Ren '06, and Richard Sinn '07 secured four silver medals while John T. Wong '07 took a gold.
Despite a strong showing in forms, much of the team's excitement was reserved for the second day's sparring matches. MIT colored belts represented the team exceptionally well, with Nix earning bronze and Chiang, Chambers, and Ha earning gold.
The black belts put on a similarly strong showing. Newly-promoted black belt Lawrence, for instance, took bronze after winning a very strategic match and lost only to the tournament's athlete of the year. Similarly, Wong defeated a seasoned competitor before challenging the division winner in a very spirited bout. Soon after, Zhou, making her last tournament appearance for MIT, and Chan, last year's female athlete of the year, enjoyed clean victories and claimed bronze medals as well.
Tech has been a consistent national contender over the past few years, placing second in the meet last year and first in 2004.
The MIT team hopes to continue its forward momentum into the coming weeks, where the team will continue fighting for the Ivy Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League cup. Meanwhile, Zhou, Chan, Lawrence, and Wong will be preparing for Collegiate Team Trials in Kansas, where they will each be seeking a spot on the United States Collegiate National Team.