On Saturday, Nov. 5, the MIT Sport Taekwondo Club traveled to Cornell University and competed in the second Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) tournament of the season. Just two weeks after hosting the season’s first tournament, the team displayed grace, dexterity, and enduring drive as they faced over 400 opponents from 30 colleges nationwide. Despite being outnumbered by several rival teams, MIT demonstrated a consistently strong performance and took second place.
Per ECTC tournament tradition, the day began with forms, or poomsae, in which contenders execute a sequence of choreographed movements. As they are judged by panels of three first-degree black belt or higher-ranked officials, competitors must perform their forms with not only accuracy, but also correctly controlled timing, power, and nuanced attitude. Team co-captains Erika Lee ’12 and Seth Matthew Weinberg G set the stage, taking first and fourth, respectively, in the women’s and men’s black belt division, both placing for the second consecutive time this season. Kristina L. Lozoya ’13 maxed out her second place performance from two weeks previously by earning gold in the women’s red belt division. Additionally, blue belts Stephanie P. Chen ’12 and George T. Cheng ’14 won fourth in their respective divisions.
In the lower belt groups, Tam Nguyen ’13 won first in the women’s green belt division for the second consecutive time this season, and beginners Latif Alam ’12 and Johanna Chong ’14 placed for the first time, concluding the morning with first and fourth, respectively. After a morning of solid performances, MIT was tied neck and neck with archrival Cornell.
As the day progressed and the sparring competition began, MIT continued to show their strength and prowess. Improving upon their previous performance, the women’s A1 team (co-captain Tara Sarathi ’12, Michelle Chen ’14, Lee) took silver and defeated Princeton — who had eliminated them at MIT — in the semi-finals. Despite giving up a 6-3 lead in the second round, Sarathi persisted and slowly drove the match into overtime, building up her points and winning on a left turning kick 7-6 and advancing to the finals. Unfortunately, the squad fell to a very experienced team from University of Michigan. In the men’s division, the A1 team (Weinberg, Aziz Abdellahi G) dominated the division and won several critical matches, before falling to Penn State in the finals.
In the B-Team (intermediates) competition, the men’s B1 (Maksim Stepanenko ’12, Cheng) advanced to the quarterfinals, while the women’s B1 team (Angela N. Chang G, Xuan Yang ’13, Lori Ling G) won consistently before being edged out in several close semi-final matches. With a personal best, Ling notched a win against her Tufts rival 10-9 in a hard-fought match that showcased her technical precision and ability to hold her position in the clinch. The women’s B2 (Chen, Mengfei Yang ’12) and B3 (Tiffany A. Chen ’12, Lozoya) teams both advanced to the quarterfinals, showcasing perfectly timed axe kicks and newly acquired cut kicks. There, they were unfortunately eliminated by Tufts and Cornell. In the C-team beginners’ division, the women’s’ C1 team (Nguyen, Chong, Sarah Bricault G) defeated Vermont C2 and UPenn C2 to reach the semifinals and win bronze.
Despite a second-place finish, MIT continues to hold a small Division 1 lead, with approximately 720 points compared to second-place Cornell’s 600. As it goes into the offseason, the team and its athletes continue to become more physically and mentally strong. With the end of first semester reached and over a month of IAP beginning, the Engineers will train hard to prepare for the next tournament at Princeton in the spring.