Taekwondo Finishes Second in November Cornell Tournament

The MIT Sport Taekwondo team took second place at a Nov. 11 tournament at Cornell University. The team, coached by Daniel B. Chuang, remains in second place out of 18 schools in the Ivy Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League, behind only archrival Cornell.

The second tournament of the season featured a gold-silver-bronze women’s intermediate division (B-team) sweep for the first time since 2004.

The day began with forms competition, where competitors perform a choreographed set of movements and are judged based on such elements as grace, control, power, and flexibility. MIT dominated the colored belt division, placing in every division.

Team co-captain Christopher J. Han ’09 and Christine M. Lee ’09 led the way in the red belt division, taking gold and silver, respectively. In the blue belt division, Ning Wu G wowed the judges with his graceful side kicks to obtain silver, while in the women’s division Miranda J. Ha G and Jaclyn J. Ho ’09 took silver and bronze, avenging a University of Pennsylvania sweep at the previous tournament. Gordon Lu G secured silver in a tough men’s green belt division, and Elizabeth M. Markham ’09 and Stephanie R. Chiang ’08 swept 1-2 respectively in the women’s green belt division. Shammi S. Quddus ’10 and first-time competitor Mary Hong ’10 beat out a huge yellow belt division to collect gold and silver, respectively.

Sparring began with the advanced (A-team) division. Both the men and women fought tough, close matches. The men’s A1 team (Han, Wu, and team co-captain Jarek Labaziewicz G) lost a close match to Cornell. Meanwhile, Women’s A1 (Ha, Corinna Hui ’09, and co-captain Karolina Corin G) defeated Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to meet Cornell A2. The team sparred valiantly in some emotional matches. Ha won in overtime against an experienced Cornell black belt. Team president Hui scored solid inside kicks and kept her cool against an intimidating opponent, losing by just one point in a match that could have gone either way.

The tournament was also an opportunity for beginners in the club to try their hand at competition sparring. The Men’s C1 team (Lu, Rafael A. Raya ’11, and Tylor J. Hess ’10) fought hard to win bronze. The indomitable Women’s C1 team (Ranbel F. Sun ’10, Han Zhu ’09, and Chiang) blazed through the division to take gold with an unprecedented four decisions by a 10-point gap, the point at which the mercy rule is invoked, while the Women’s C2 team (Jennifer T. Huang ’08, Quddus, and Markham) took bronze.

The day ended on an exciting high, with MIT domination of intermediate (B-team) sparring. The Men’s B1 team (Han, Wu, and Labaziewicz G), which also doubled earlier in the day as the A1 team, was inched out by Cornell for first place. Meanwhile, Men’s B2 (Joey Y. Zhou G, Jamie B. Edwards ’08, and Jason J. Uh ’10) sparred through some extremely physical and rough matches to win bronze.

The women’s B-teams tasted victory in a tremendous 1-2-3 sweep. The B1 team (Ha, Hui, and Chiang) and B2 (Lee, Stephanie E. Nix ’09, and Markham) easily took gold and silver. Rounding out the sweep was the B3 team (Sun, Zhu, and Nicole A. Bieber ’10), which shut out Cornell’s more experienced top B-team for the win. The victory ended the tournament on a high note, with the momentum swinging in MIT’s favor after some tough losses earlier on.

The team’s next tournament will take place at New York University in February.