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In a decisive start to its season, the MIT Sport Taekwondo Club clinched first place at the first Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) tournament of the year on Sunday, October 18. Organized by the club and hosted at the Johnson Athletic Center, the tournament drew 319 competitors from 20 different schools, including 46 athletes representing MIT.

The day began with a strong showing in the forms competition, in which patterned movements were judged on power and precision, with MIT placing in all belt divisions.

Black belt competitors cleaned house early on in the competition. Erika L. Lee ’12 and Rebecca Hung ’11 dominated the women’s division, taking gold and bronze, while team veteran Jason Uh ’10 tied for first place in the men’s division.

MIT continued this pace in the colored belt divisions, placing in all but one. Shammi S. Quddus ’10 took first in the women’s red belt division while Wenxian Hong G and Ning Wu G took third and fourth respectively in the men’s red belt division. Christine Hsueh ’10 and Kristina Lozoya ’13 placed second and fourth places in women’s blue belt, and Alvin S. Chen ’11 took fourth in men’s blue belt.

MIT double-placed in the majority of the lower color belt divisions, with Hsin-Jung “Sophia” Li ’11 and Sharon W. Tam ‘10 winning first and third in the women’s green belt division and newcomer Christopher M. Williams G earning third for the men. In an especially large and competitive white and yellow belt division, Mengfei Yang ’12 and Wendy Pino ’11 secured first and fourth respectively.

With such strong performances in forms, MIT went into sparring competition with 189 points.

The men’s A-team (advanced) division was stacked with some of the day’s toughest competition; the men’s A1 team (Wu, Uh, George C. Whitfield G) lost a tough match to RPI. Despite this early setback, MIT rallied back, with the men’s A2 team (Benjamin M. Huan ’11, Joseph S. Huan ’11, Iliya T. Tsekov G) taking bronze and the men’s A3 team (Aaron L. Sampson ’10 and Daniel J. Sauza ’11) finishing in the quarterfinals.

The women’s A teams continued the dominating trend from last season, with MIT’s A1 (Ranbel F. Sun ’10, ZheChen “Mary” Hong ’10, Lee) and A2 team (Quddus, Ji-Soo Kim ’12, JiHye Kim ’10) securing silver and bronze respectively. Similarly, the women’s intermediate level B-teams also double-placed, with the B1 (Sun, Hong, Li) and B3 teams (Hsueh, Yang, and Lorraine Ling G) finishing first and third.

In the C-team (novice) division, the men’s C1 (Ryan A. Rosario ‘12, David Y. Wen, ’10, Ijeoma “EJ” Emeagwali ’12) and C2 team (Williams, Bradley Wu ’11, Wei-Yang Sun ’11) had exceptionally strong showings and swept the top two spots.

The women’s C1 (Stephanie P. Chen ’12, Li, Teresa “Ty” Lin ’12) and C2 (Tam, Yang, Heejung Kim ’12) fought through multiple injuries to end with a 1-3 finish. Both Lin and Li scored several head shots and spinning kicks, taking advantage of the new scoring system that increased the point values for such maneuvers.

Victory was not limited to seasoned veterans. Fresh from summer training and the recent sport taekwondo P.E. class, the women’s beginner D1 team (Pino, Tiffany A. Chen ’12, and Katherine L. Luo ’13) seized gold with a victory over Tufts. The men’s D1 team (Maxwell S. Mann ’12, David M. Kim ’13, Michael K. Yu ’10) also gained valuable experience and finished second.

At the end of the day, MIT came out on top — winning first place in Division I with a total of 641 points, followed by rival Cornell University with 572 points.

With only two weeks left until the next tournament at Cornell on November 7, the team hopes to use this victory to push ahead and stay ahead, one kick at a time.