The MIT Sport Taekwondo team finished the season with a dominating performance at the last Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) tournament, held at the University of Vermont on April 27. A series of intense sparring victories solidified the team’s second place in Division I, finishing with 451 points to Cornell’s 708.
The day began with the poomsae competition for all ranks. Although performance for the team was not as strong as usual, some competitors proved to be consistent high-scorers. Michelle “Machine” Chen ’14 took control of forms with precise kiyaps and intense poomsae faces, achieving a silver in the highly contested women’s black belt division. Kevin Hu ’15 once again pulled through in the men’s red belt poomsae competition, scoring a silver. In the men’s green belt forms, Akwasi S. Owusu-Akyaw ’17 broke through the competition to win a bronze. Newcomer Gergely Odor ’16 wowed the audience with a stellar debut in men’s white belt forms, taking home gold.
The sparring rounds later in the tournament showcased the team’s continual improvement and drive to win. All three MIT A teams matched up against the ECTC’s fiercest competitors, and the rounds were not easy. Men’s A1 fought for and won a well-earned gold over archrival Cornell: Seth M. Weinberg G provided crucial support with his iron defense in his ECTC return match. Daniel J. Stallworth ’14 pulled off some incredible flying push kicks that pushed his opponents out of the ring in his last matches. Enrique Fernandez G held strong and won all three of his matches against the league’s strongest middleweights. Alternate Isaac Fenta ’14 scored a victory over an All-Star in his very first A team match, and alternate Kevin Hu ’15 enjoyed a well-deserved rest after having combatted injury throughout the year.
Women’s A1 also fought through tough matches to come out on top with gold. Jessica J. Yang ’15 pulled off three critical wins with some amazing headshots; Lorraine Ling G fought hard and well in her final ECTC performance; and “Machine” Chen ’14 had a fantastic run, winning all her matches by point gap. Despite a few losses, Women’s A2 also performed well, with team members Tam T. Nguyen G, Andrea S. Guatemala ’16, and Shirley Tsang ’14 pulling through difficult matches to clinch a bronze.
Along with an outstanding performance by the MIT A teams, the B and C teams had their best sparring run of the season. Both the men’s B1 and B2 teams proved strong, with men’s B1 (Ruben A. Amaez ’16, Shapagat Berdibek ’15, and Benjamin I. “Big Ben” Shaibu ’14) taking home the bronze and men’s B2 (Thipok “Little Ben” Rak-amnouykit ’15, Tahin F. Syed G, and Michael I. Hernandez ’14) advancing to quarterfinals. Similarly, the two-person women’s B1 team (Yang Dai ’16 and Jackie Wu ’16) reached quarters, fighting for the first time as B1.
The men’s C1 team (Emmanuel Fasil ’17, Alan Chiao ’16, and Eric R. Klinkhammer ’15) had a dominating set of matches despite fighting through injury, finishing with a bronze, and the C2 team (Owusu-akyaw, Odor, and David V.Perez ’15) performed similarly well and advanced to quarters. The two-person women’s C1 team (Lauren A. Huang ’17 and Rachel T. Harris ’17) won their first two rounds to earn their first bronze.
The team will continue to train hard over the summer in preparation for the ’14-’15 season with the goal of recapturing the ECTC cup.