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Xuan Yang
Aziz Abdellahi G spars in the first ECTC tournament of the season on Oct. 22 at the Johnson Athletics Center. The MIT Sport Taekwondo Club finished first with 466 points.
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On Saturday, Oct. 22, the MIT Sport Taekwondo Club organized and competed in the first Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) tournament of the season. Hosted on campus at the Johnson Athletics Center, the tournament attracted over 420 competitors from 23 schools. Showing MIT’s depth across several divisions, 50 team members competed with strong performances in a long day of forms and sparring. The Engineers defeated Division I rival Cornell University 466 to 256, earning a first place finish.

The day began with forms (poomsae) competitions, in which choreographed techniques are judged based on grace, power, and precision. The team instilled its dominant presence, with medal-earning performances in almost every division.

Black belt competitors set the stage, capturing first and third places. Team co-captain Erika Lee ’12 and Nicole A. Kang ’14 took gold and bronze respectively in the women’s black belt division, while co-captain Seth Matthew Weinberg G took bronze in the men’s black belt division.

In the women’s red belt division, Mengfei Yang ’12, Kristina L. Lozoya ’13, and Lorraine “Lori” Ling G swept first, second, and third while Philip H. Daniels ’13 and Ryan A. Rosario ’12 took first and fourth in the mens’ division. Blue belts Stephanie P. Chen ’12, Karine T. Yuki ’13, and Xuan Yang ’13 won first, second, and third respectively in the women’s division, while Henrique P. Oliveira Pinto ’13 won second in the men’s blue belt division.

Despite fierce competition in the lower belt groups, Tam Nguyen ’13 won first in the women’s green belt division, and Isaac Fenta ’14 took third in the men’s green belt division.

After gaining a significant lead in a morning of forms competition, MIT continued its relentless performances in the afternoon sparring sessions.

The men’s and women’s advanced level teams (A-team) displayed a strong performance in sparring. The women’s A1 team (co-captain Tara P. Sarathi ’12, Michelle W. Chen ’14, Lee) took bronze, advancing over Yale and Brown before falling to Princeton University in very close matches. Lee was undefeated on Saturday, winning 11-1 over Brown and 13-7 over Princeton. In the men’s division, the A1 team (Weinberg, Aziz Abdellahi G, Alexander J. Bergan G, alt: Edgardo “Eddie” Farias ’15) dominated Cornell A2 before losing by just one point to eventual gold medalists Penn State in the quarter finals.

In the B-Team (intermediate) competition, men’s B1 (Rosario, Maksim Stepanenko ’12, Daniel) beat Boston University B1, and Cornell’s B2 and B1 teams to win the division. Stepanenko was undefeated, scoring a textbook double kick in sudden death overtime during the finals to put his team in a position to win.

The women’s B-teams proved their incredible depth with three teams earning medals in the intermediate division. The women’s B1 team (Angela N. Chang G, Xuan Yang, Ling) sparred with technical precision, displaying tactical use of footwork. They lost two very close overtime matches in the finals against Cornell, taking silver. The women’s B2 (Stephanie Chen, Maria Z. Tou ’14, Mengfei Yang) team fought with physical and mental excellence all the way to the semifinals, where they bowed out to women’s B1. The women’s B3 (Tiffany A. Chen ’12, Lozoya) defeated BU B1 and the UPenn B1 and nearly defeated the eventual gold medalists Cornell B1 in the semifinals.

Another highlight of the tournament was the great representation MIT had from beginners who had just finished the Sport Taekwondo PE class, taught by MIT Sport Taekwondo Coach Daniel B. Chuang. These competitors showed their energy in the rings while trying out what they had learned in the class.

Particularly noteworthy were the positive attitudes and enthusiasm of the team members, cheering vivaciously on the sidelines and working cooperatively behind the scenes to run a successful tournament. The team’s energy transcended the boundaries of the ring and drove the competitors to fight harder and go further. After totaling the points in each division, MIT came out on top with 466 points. Rival Cornell took second, with 256 points, and Brown followed with 209. Despite these strong showings in all levels of competition and an overall win at the first tournament of the year, the team is already training hard for the remaining tournaments of the season.