MIT hosts first Taekwando tournament of the season

MIT places second, looking to build upon solid performances for future tournaments in season

On last Sunday, Oct. 19, the MIT Sport Taekwondo Club organized and competed in the first Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) tournament of the season. Hosted on campus at the Johnson Athletics Center, the tournament attracted over 420 competitors from 23 schools. Showing MIT’s depth across several divisions, 43 team members competed with strong performances in a long day of forms and sparring.

The day began with forms (poomsae) competitions, in which choreographed techniques are judged based on grace, power, and precision. The team instilled its dominant presence, with medal-earning performances in almost every division.

In the women’s red belt division, Yang Dai ’16, and Jean Chow ’16 earned silver and bronze respectively, while Tahin F. Syed G earned silver in the men’s division. Blue belts Wesley T. Cox ’17 and Thipok Rak-amnouykit ’16 won third and fourth respectively in the men’s blue belt division.

Despite fierce competition in the lower belt groups, Eric C. Chen ’17 won first in the men’s green belt division, and Ekapob Kulchoakrungsun ’16 took second in the men’s white/yellow belt division.

The men’s and women’s advanced level teams (A-team) displayed a strong performance in sparring. The women’s A1 team (co-captain Andrea S. Guatemala ’16, Tam T. Nguyen G, Olga V. Shestopalova ’16, and Maria S. Alexis G) took bronze, advancing over West Point before falling to University of Connecticut in very close matches. In the men’s division, the A1 team (co-captain George Cheng ’15, co-captain Enrique Fernandez Gonzalez G, Emmanuel Quevedo Hernandez G, and Fernando A. Yordan ’17) took silver, advancing over West Point A1, Cornell A4, and Cornell A3 before losing to Cornell A1 in the finals.

In the B-team (intermediate) competition, the women’s B2 (Yang Dai ’16 and Casey L. Denham ’15) placed bronze. The two-person team won their first two matches before losing in the semis to Tufts. Casey was undefeated on Sunday — by staying calm and waiting she was able to use some well-timed kicks to defeat her opponents.

In the C-team (beginner) competition we saw some of our beginners, fresh out of the PE class, win bronze on the women’s C2 (Botong Ma ’17, Caitlin L. Fischer ’18, Samantha N. Amey-Gonzalez ’18, alt: Renae R. Irving ’18). Botong was the only veteran on this team of rookies who showed their fighting strength at the tournament, winning 3 matches before losing in semis. Caitlin remained undefeated at her first ever taekwondo tournament.

Particularly noteworthy were the positive attitudes and enthusiasm of the team members, cheering vivaciously on the sidelines and working cooperatively behind the scenes to run a successful tournament. The team’s energy transcended the boundaries of the ring and drove the competitors to fight harder and go further.

After totaling the points in each division, MIT came in second with 269 points. Rival Cornell took first, with 669 points, and Tufts followed in third with 165. The team is already training hard for the remaining tournaments of the season.