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It has been four months since the last Ivy Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League tournament (now called the Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference, or ECTC), but the MIT Sport Taekwondo team seized the training period as an opportunity to train hard and forcefully capture first place at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Saturday, Feb. 28. The team, coached by head instructor Dan Chuang and led by captains Corinna Hui ’09 and Christopher J. Han ’09, showed outstanding spirit and talent on all levels: from forms to sparring, passionate beginners to experienced veterans. At the end of the day, MIT captured first place out of 22 schools, inching out rival Cornell University by a narrow, but decisive, margin of twelve points.

MIT’s competitors wasted no time in demonstrating their readiness for competition as the forms part of the tournament began. Daniel J. Sauza ’11 captured silver in the men’s black belt division, while Erika Lee ’12 intrepidly seized the bronze in the women’s black belt division.

In the red belt forms, MIT’s women dominated with a triple place as Shammi S. Quddus ’10, Ranbel F. Sun ’10, and Stephanie E. Nix ’09 gallantly snatched first, second, and third place respectively.

In blue belt forms, Andrew K. “Suggy” Sugaya ’11 overpowered the men’s division with a first place performance, and Alvin S. Chen ’11 delivered a valiant performance to capture silver in men’s green belt forms.

In the especially competitive yellow belt forms, Hsinjung “Sophia” Li ’11 walked away confidently with the bronze.

Even after a brilliant performance in forms, MIT did not go easy on their opponents, particularly against long time rivals Cornell. As the afternoon progressed, the following sparring matches were never spiritless.

For the first time since 2006, MIT’s women’s A1 team (Sun, Hui, Christine Chin ’09) dynamically clinched the gold against rival Cornell. The team’s MVP performance was given by Hui as she muscled her way through the last few seconds for a heroic 11-10 win to seal first place.

As for B team sparing, the men’s B1 team (Ning Wu G, Jason Uh ’10, Omar E. Fernandez ’10) fought for third, while the women’s B1 (Sun, Han Zhu ’09, Chin), B2 (Quddus, Nix, Lyla J. Fischer ’11), and B3 (Christine T. Hsueh ’10, Christine M. Lee ’09, Lorriane Ling G) obliterated the competition by sweeping first, second, and third place for the fifth time in six tournaments.

One of the more exhilarating moments of the tournament was the rise of the C teams. Women’s C1 (Hsueh, Li, Fischer) showed their mettle by capturing the gold and leaving the ring with all team members undefeated. The men’s C1 (Mark J. Yen ’11, David Y. Wen ’10, Ijeoma “EJ” Emeagwali ’12) seized the silver after a painstakingly-close championship match in overtime.

After a day full of tough battles, the team walked away from West Point with their morale strong. Even though several superior performances led to a first place victory and an overall first place standing in the league, the team must continue to train hard to finish the season as strong as it started. The next ECTC tournament will take place at the University of Pennsylvania on April 4.