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Bobby B. Ren
Erika Lee ’12 brings an axe kick down on Princeton University’s Rae Drach en route to a silver medal in the women’s black belt welterweight division. MIT’s Sport Taekwondo team captured its third consecutive national title on April 18 in Denver.
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The MIT Sport Taekwondo team, led by Head Coach Dan Chuang and captains ZheChen “Mary” Hong ’10 and Jason J. Uh ’10, faced off against the nation’s best at the 34th annual National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) Championships at Metro State College in Denver, Colorado on April 17 and 18. The team of 34 competitors claimed their third consecutive overall collegiate national title by a lofty twelve point margin, 59 to 47 points, over Brown University.

The tournament also served as the selection process for the US National Collegiate Taekwondo Team. Black belts who placed in the top two in forms for the team trials division, or black belts who placed in the top two for sparring earned the right to represent the United States at one of two international collegiate Taekwondo championships: the World University Taekwondo Championships in Vigo, Spain (July 2010) and the Pan American University Taekwondo Championships in Lima, Peru (November 2010).

The two day tournament began with forms (poomsae) competition on April 17, where competitors performed patterned movements judged on execution, power, grace, and control. Highlights from the colored belts included a one-two-three sweep in the women’s red belt forms, with Hsinjung “Sophia” Li ’11, Kristina L. Lozoya ’13, and Hong capturing first, second and third respectively. Teresa “Ty” Lin ’12 and Heejung Kim ’12 took first and second respectively in the women’s blue belt division, while Christopher M. Williams G took first in the men’s blue belt division. Rounding out the novice division were the green belts, with Bradley Wu ’11 and Angela N. Chang ’11 both taking second in the men’s and women’s light divisions respectively. Stephanie Chen ’12 took bronze in the women’s light as well, with Mengfei Yang ’12 taking second in the women’s heavy division.

The true standout performances, however, belonged to the black belts. Erika Lee ’12 took first in the women’s second degree black belt division. Uh took first in the men’s first degree black belt division, while Daniel Sauza ’11 took second in men’s second degree.

Also held at the Championships were team trials for the United States National Collegiate Taekwondo Poomsae Team. Alicia Y. Zhou ’06 and Bobby B. Ren ’05 took first in the mixed pairs division. Ren also placed second in men’s individual forms. Zhou and Lee, along with fellow competitor Carissa Fu from Princeton, took first in women’s team poomsae while Sauza, Ren, and Richard-Duane S. Chambers ’07 took first in the men’s team division. All will represent the U.S. in Spain later this year.

The second day of competition focused on sparring, beginning with the novice division. Jennifer Tran ’11 easily rose to the top of the women’s yellow belt welter weight division by winning three straight matches, while newcomers Nan Wang ’12 and Yunxin “Joy” Jiao ’12 captured second and third in the fly and feather weights respectively. The blue and green belts fought equally well. Williams won gold in the men’s heavy weight by a huge margin, while Lin dominated the women’s welter weight division after overcoming a nasty kick to the face. Yang, Xuan Yang ’13, Tiffany Chen ’12, and Chang also secured bronze in their respective weight divisions. The red belts enjoyed their last hurrah in the novice division with an equally strong showing. Li went undefeated to claim her second gold of the tournament in women’s welter weight, while David Y. Wen ’10 (men’s feather) and Lozoya (women’s heavy) both took silver. Hsueh and Tara P. Sarathi ’12 rounded out the competition by taking bronze in women’s feather.

Like poomsae team trials, the black belt sparring also served as the team trials for the U.S. team in sparring. Christine Chin ’09 (middle) fought her way to the top, losing only to a fighter from Arizona State University to clinch silver. Lee (welter) also pushed through to the end, losing a close match to the United States Military Academy’s Marisa Yarmie and taking silver. Both qualified for the Pan Am University Team, and will travel to Peru later this year. For the men, Chambers earned his first national medal by beating out over 30 other competitors to clinch the bronze in the men’s light division.

The team is now tied with UC Berkeley for the most consecutive overall national titles since the division’s inception in 1997.