Taekwondo comes in third Club team competed in national championship

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Michelle W. Chen ’14 competes in a taekwondo match against University of Iowa at the National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) Championships on April 5.
Tahin F. Syed

The MIT Sport Taekwondo Club traveled to University of California, Berkeley April 4–6 to compete in the National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) Championships. The club faced many tough and experienced competitors from schools all over the country and came in third in the Overall and Novice Divisions.

In the Championship (Black Belt) division, club president Michelle W. Chen ‘14 and co-captain Isaac Fenta ‘14 won bronze in pairs poomsae. The club also won third in both male and female team poomsae, with strong performances from Seth M. Weinberg G, Andrew J. Mandelbaum G, Isaac Fenta ’14, Michelle W. Chen ’14, Tara P. Sarathi G, and Kristina L. Lozoya ‘13.

Michelle won her third poomsae medal of the day in the team trials division, where she competed alongside Miyako Yerick (University of Texas Austin) and Carissa Fu (Boston University) to win silver. Originally selected as the first alternates, Michelle, Miyako and Carissa were named as the 2014 US National Collegiate Female Poomsae Team, as the first place team could not attend the competition. They will compete at the 2014 World University Taekwondo Championships in Hothot, Inner Mongolia, China in June.

For Championship sparring, the black belts encountered even tougher competition. Fenta, Chen, Lozoya, Dan Stallworth ’14, and one other MIT member all reached the quarterfinals in their divisions, just one match shy of the medals round. They subsequently faced some very experienced fighters in the quarterfinals but showed great spirit and determination, fighting some very close, exciting matches.

The color belts excelled in the Novice division poomsae competitions. MIT dominated the red belt divisions (also the largest divisions): Shirley Tsang ’14, Tiffany F. Chen G, Kevin Hu ’15, and Shapagat Berdibek ’15 won gold, silver, silver and bronze respectively. Eric R. Klinkhammer ’15 and Meredith Alyse M. Benson ’17 also earned bronze medals for their green and yellow belt poomsae.

Color belt sparring saw some strong, impressive performances. Shapagat won silver in welterweight red belt sparring. Kevin and Tahin F. Syed G made it to the quarterfinals in a large featherweight red belt division. The red belt females earned three more medals in sparring, with Tiffany and Jessica J. Yang ‘15 winning silver and bronze respectively in the featherweight division and Casey L. Denham ‘15 winning bronze in welterweight.

In a large green-blue heavyweight division, Eric made it to the quarterfinals, and Benjamin I. Shaibu ’14 fought a series of exciting matches which took him to the finals to win silver. In yellow belt sparring, Meredith won bronze and David Perez ’15 and Wesley Cox ‘17 reached the quarterfinals in their divisions.

Overall, the team showed great attitude and determination in a large and competitive Nationals and had some really great accomplishments in both poomsae and sparring. Despite their reduced team size, MIT placed third overall, behind Brown and Berkeley. Club members will take these experiences with them as they prepare for the last tournament of the semester at the University of Vermont on April 27.