On Saturday, Oct. 13, the MIT Sport Taekwondo Club organized and competed in this season’s first Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) tournament. Facing fierce competition from universities such as Brown, Harvard, Penn State, Tufts, Princeton, and Cornell, the team showed impressive grit and determination and won a strong second place finish out of 22 schools.
The tournament started with the forms (poomsae) portion of the competition, in which competitors execute a series of choreographed techniques for judges, who grade the performance based on grace, accuracy, timing, and power.
In the men’s black belt division, Seth M. Weinberg G and Andrew J. Mandelbaum G started the day off with top finishes, earning fourth and seventh place of 32, respectively. Red belts Phillip H. Daniel ’13 and Teresa T. Lin ’13 took first and fourth place in their own divisions of 26 and 18. Additionally, blue belts Jonas Helfer G, in his ECTC debut, and Shirley Tsang ’14 both earned silver medals in their divisions.
In the lower belt groups, Shapagat Berdibek ’15 earned bronze (third) in the men’s green belt division of 27 athletes. Jean Chow ’16 placed first and Fransheska Colon ’16 placed fourth in the divisions of 28 yellow belts. Jianqiang Lin G finished eighth in a very tough bracket with 38 competitors.
As the tournament continued, the poomsae competition concluded and the sparring began. The women’s A1 (advanced) team (Tara P. Sarathi G, Michelle W. Chen ’14, Kristina L. Lozoya ’13) certainly set the bar high, defeating both New York University and Harvard in order to face archrival Cornell in the finals. The final match was very tense, with Chen edging out Cornell’s Hilary T. Monaco to take the gold. The women’s A2 team (Shan He G, Vernelle A. Noel G, Lorraine Ling G) also had a very strong showing, making it all the way to the quarterfinals.
The men’s A teams also had solid performances. The A1 team (Weinberg, Aziz Abdellahi G) soundly defeated the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute team but faced a tough loss against Brown in their quarterfinal match. The A2 team (Edgardo Farias ’15, Henrique P. O. Pinto ’13) also beat RPI but fell to the University of Connecticut’s team.
MIT’s B (intermediate) teams all had remarkable performances in this tournament. The women’s B1 team (Tam Nguyen ’13, Teresa Lin, Shannon X. Yang ’13) fought fiercely against Boston University, Tufts, and Cornell, securing a silver medal. The women’s B2 team (Maria Z. Tou ’14, Tsang) was only a two-person team, but that didn’t stop them from muscling their way to a bronze medal. The men’s B1 team (Isaac Fenta ’14, Gabriel Jimenez ’16, Pinto) clawed their way through tough matchups against the University of Vermont, Johns Hopkins University, and Penn State to snatch a silver medal.
Both the men’s C1 and C2 (beginner) teams went undefeated throughout the entire day in a very tough bracket. The men’s C1 team (Kevin Hu ’15, Berdibek, Danilo J. Ondina ’14) tore their way through Connecticut, Penn State, Johns Hopkins, and RPI to secure a gold medal despite an injury early on. The men’s C2 team (Adam J. Spanbauer G, Brandon H. Baker G, Cecilio Aponte ’15) faced off against Connecticut, Tufts, Brown, and Cornell before bowing out to MIT’s C1 team to lock in the silver medal. The men’s C3 (Jianqiang Lin, Geoffrey M. Gilmore ’16, Diego A. Giraldez ’15), C4 (Jacovie D. Rodriguez ’15, Steven C. Browne ’16, Erwin Hilton ’16), and C5 (Tahin F. Syed G, Benjamin I. Shaibu ’14) all had very strong debut performances and show great promise for the future.
As for the women, the C1 team (Jessica J. Yang ’15, Casey L. Denham ’15, Sarah J. Bricault G) easily won against Vermont and BU and left the ring with a silver medal for their efforts. The women’s C2 team (Tiffany F. Chen G, Colon, Kathryn E. Biegel ’15, Jean Chow) was right behind them with a bronze medal.
As the tournament drew to a close, the MIT Engineers walked away with a total of 504 points, only narrowly losing to archrival Cornell with 534 points. After a great deal of intense training both during and outside of regular practice, the team is ready to strike back this Sunday, Nov. 4 at the next ECTC tournament at Cornell.