The MIT Sport Taekwondo Club, coached by Dan Chuang and led by captains Jason J. Uh ’10 and ZheChen “Mary” Hong ’10, took home first place honors on Sunday, March 7 in the first Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference tournament since November, held at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The tournament had originally been scheduled for February 27, but was postponed due to inclement weather. Despite this, MIT fielded a strong team of 48 competitors and came out on top.
The day started out with strong performances across the board in forms, patterned movements judged on grade of execution, style, and power. MIT placed in all divisions.
Team veteran Daniel J. Sauza ’11 took first in men’s black belt forms, his first gold after five silver medals in prior tournaments. Erika Lee ’12 placed fourth in the women’s black belt division.
MIT dominated the color belt divisions. Red belts Shammi S. Quddus ’10 and Hong delivered another strong performance by taking first and second in the women’s red belt division while Wenxian Hong G represented the men’s red belts well by placing third.
Ryan A. Rosario ’12, Christopher M. Williams G, and David Wen ’10 placed first, second, and fourth respectively in the men’s blue belt division, while Hsinjung “Sophia” Li ’11 and Christine T. Hsueh ’10 took first and second respectively in the women’s blue belt division.
Mengfei Yang ’12, Angela N. Chang ’11, and Tiffany A. Chen ’12 swept the women’s green belt division by taking first, second, and third respectively. Bradley Wu ’11 and team newcomer Jingxiao Lu ’13 took third and fourth in the men’s division.
Rounding out the forms division were newcomers Maksim Stepanenko ’12 and Hillary T. Monaco ’12 who took second in the men’s and women’s yellow belt divisions, beating out over thirty competitors each to place.
Once the forms competition ended, MIT was ready to show off their ferocity in the ring as the sparring competition began. In the A team division, Men’s A1 (Aziz Abdellahi G, Uh, and Williams) valiantly muscled their way to the quarterfinals in a competitive bracket, with Abdellahi aggressively winning a thrilling match against the top middleweight in the league from SUNY-Albany. On the women’s side, MIT A1 (Quddus, Hong, and Lee) and A2 (Hsueh, Michelle J. Wang ‘13, and JiHye Kim ’10) both illustrated their courage and sparred fearlessly against their opponents to make it to the quarterfinals.
In the B team division, Men’s B1 (Rosario, Rafael A. “Maverick” Raya ’11, and Williams) showed off their four months of arduous training to take the bronze medal and place for the first time this season. As for the women, B1 (Quddus, Hong, and Kristina L. Lozoya ’13) and B3 (Tara P. Sarathi ’12, Mengfei Yang, and Xuan Yang ’13) both sparred well against their opponents, but went out in the quarterfinals. However, women’s B2 (Hsueh, Li, and Heejung Kim ’12) reached the finals sparred the exhilarating last match of the day against Princeton University’s B1 to claim the silver.
Even among the lower belts, MIT continued to prove its mettle to its opponents. In the C team division, Men’s C1 (Wu, Stepanenko, Olaoluwakitan Ayod Osunkunle ’11, and Blake W. Chambers ’13) dominated over all of their opponents in order to clinch the gold, while C2 (Lu, Benjamin C. Williams ’11, Henrique P. Oliveira Pinto ’13) fought several exciting matches that led them to the bronze. In addition, the women’s C teams continued to uphold their reputation as an unstoppable force, with C1 (Stephanie P. Chen ’12, Jennifer Tran ’11, and Mengfei Yang) muscling their way through each battle to take the gold, and C2 (Laura H. Deming ’13, Chang, and Xuan Yang) clinching the silver.
By the end of the day, MIT was celebrating its victory over arch-rival Cornell University. However, with just three weeks until the last tournament of the season at the University of Pennsylvania, MIT will continue to train just as fervently as before, preparing for a grueling battle for the ECTC cup and the title of ECTC champion.