MIT hosts National Taekwondo Championship

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Co-captain Tara P. Sarathi ’12 scores a crescent kick on her opponent at the 2012 National Collegiate Taekwondo Championships held at MIT April 7 and 8.
Daniel Jang

The National Taekwondo Collegiate Championships were hosted by MIT Sport Taekwondo on April 7 and 8 with a record breaking 601 competitors. Although it was a difficult task to organize such a large tournament, the team, led by head coach Dan Chuang and captains Seth “Matt” Weinberg G, Erika Lee ’12, and Tara P. Sarathi ’12, had a strong showing and received second in the novice and championship divisions, as well as second place overall with a total of 49 points.

In the novice, or color belt, division, MIT placed second with a total of 37 points. In the yellow belt divisions, Katie Biegel ’15 won gold in sparring, Sarah J. Bricault G won bronze in forms, and Danillo J. Ondina ’14 also won third in forms, while in the green belt divisions, Latif Alam ’12 won gold in sparring and Diego A. Giraldez ’15 won bronze in sparring and silver in forms. For blue belts, Alvin Chen ’11 placed third in forms, Sharon Tam ’11 placed third in forms and silver in sparring, Maria Z. Tou ’14 placed silver in forms, Shirley Tsang ’14 placed gold in forms, Tam T. Nguyen ’13 placed gold in forms. MIT performed above and beyond in the red belt divisions, with Lori Ling G placing first in forms, Phillip H. Daniel ’13 placing silver in forms, Teresa “Ty” Lin ’12 placing silver in forms, Hilary T. Monaco ’12 placing gold in forms, Angela N. Chang G placing bronze in sparring, Ryan A. Rosario ’12 placing bronze in sparring, and Karine T. Yuki ’13 placing gold in sparring.

In the championship, or black belt, division, the Engineers placed second with a total of 12 points. Lee placed first in forms and third in sparring and Kristina L. Lozoya ’13 placed third in sparring. MIT had a significant alum turnout at the tournament, which is open to athletes who graduated in 2011, including medalists Jason Uh ’11, who placed bronze in forms, Chris M. Williams M.Eng ’11, who placed gold in forms, and Rebecca Hung, who placed gold in forms ’11. Williams and Hung also took bronze in pairs in the poomsae team trials event. Alumi Rene Chen ’07 made the Collegiate National Team and was selected as Female Athlete of the Year, while placing gold in individual and triples, and silver in pairs during the poomsae team trials.

Two short weeks after Nationals, the team was on the road to RPI in New York to compete in the final Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) tournament of the year and compete for the much coveted ECTC Cup. Although it was a small tournament, the Engineers kept the fighting spirit throughout the day, earning a total of 619 points, compared to rival Cornell’s 496. This led to MIT also winning the ECTC Championship Cup, with a season total of 1,815 points.

The team’s hard work this semester on poomsae, or forms, really paid off, with double, triple, or quadruple placings in many divisions and a total of 211 points. For green belt forms, Bricault and Alam both placed third in their divisions, while every blue belt placed, with Tsang placing second, Tou placing fourth, Issac Fenta ’14 placing first, and Victor Nevarez ’12 placing fourth. As at Nationals, our red belts really shined, with women sweeping the forms division, as Mengfei Yang, Chang, Nguyen, and Monaco, received first through fourth respectively. On the men’s side, Daniel placed first, Maksim Stepaneko ’12 placed second, and Rosario placed fourth. Black belts Lee and Weinberg finished off a great season by both placing second.

MIT also proved to be a tough competitor in sparring. Men’s A1 (Weinberg, Edgardo “Eddie” Farias ’15, Aziz Abdellahi G) placed third, finishing off a very successful season. The real standout performance of the day was women’s A1 (Lee, Sarathi, Michelle W. Chen ’14) who won gold against tough teams they had worked all season to beat. Men’s B teams double placed, with B1 (Rosario, Stepaneko, Daniel) winning gold and B2 (Fenta, Nevarez, and George T. Cheng ’14) winning silver. Women’s B1 (Ling, Chang, and Tiffany A. Chen ’12) also won silver after a series of tough matches. Women’s C1 (Bricault, Casey L. Denham ’15, and Jessica J. Yang ’15) placed third for the second straight competition. Women’s C2 (Biegel and Tiffany Chen G) and Men’s C3 (Steven Fine ’15 and Cecilio Aponte ’15) both reached the quarterfinals.

Along with winning first place in Division I and the ECTC Cup, Lee and Weinberg took home both MVP awards. Although it was a tiring series of tournaments, the team held it together to perform their best. Every member contributed, whether in the rings or on the sidelines cheering. These tournaments ended a strong season for the Engineers and next year looks to be just as promising.