MIT taekwondo finishes in second place after Cornell

The team looks to channel the positive energy into further success at future taekwondo tournaments

On Sunday, Nov. 2, the MIT Sport Taekwondo Club competed in the second Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) tournament of the season. The tournament was hosted at Cornell University. MIT showed its strength across all divisions — 33 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.

Black belt competitors set the stage, capturing silver and bronze. Team member Renee T. Zhao ’18 placed 2nd in the women’s black belt division, while Kevin Hu ’15 placed 2nd and George T. Cheng ’15 placed 3rd in the men’s black belt division.

MIT swept the top spots in the women’s red belt division. Yang Dai ’16, Casey L. Denham ’15, and Jackie Wu ’16 earned Gold, Silver, and Bronze respectively. Blue belt Chipok (Ben) Rak-amnouykit ’16 also earned a Bronze medal in the men’s blue belt division.

Despite fierce competition in the lower belt groups, Meredith M. Benson ’17 earned a Bronze medal in the women’s green belt division. Sam Amey-Gonzalez ’18 and Ekapob “Golf” Kulchoakrungsun ’16 each took Gold in the huge women’s and men’s white/yellow belt divisions respectively.

After taking the lead in the morning of forms competition, MIT kept the energy going in the afternoon sparring sessions.

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 and Olga Shestopalova ’16) took Bronze, advancing over Cornell A2 before falling to Princeton in very close matches. In the men’s division, the A1 team (co-captain Cheng, co-captain Enrique Fernandez, Emmanuel Quevedo, and alt Hu) took Bronze, advancing over Villanova and Cornell A4, before losing to Cornell in the semi-finals.

In the B-Team (intermediate) competition, both women’s B1 (Jean Chow ’16, Wu, and Rachel T. Harris ’17) and B2 (Dai and Denham) placed Bronze. Both teams fought incredibly hard winning several close matches before being defeated in the semis by University of Michigan B1 and Princeton B1 respectively. The men’s B1 (Tahin Syed, Geoffrey M. Gilmore ’16, and Eric R. Klinkhammer ’15) also took Bronze in a very tough division. The team scored solid wins over West Point and Tufts before falling to the Cornell B1 team.

In the C-Team (beginner) competition we saw some of our beginners, on the women’s C1 (Ashley L. Wang ’17, Renae R. Irving ’18, and Amey-Gonzalez) win Bronze. Sam was the only veteran on this team of rookies, having only fought once before at the MIT tournament. The entire team showed their fighting spirit at the tournament, winning 3 matches before losing in semis. On the men’s side, the men’s C1 (Kulchoakrungsun, Eric C. Chen ’17, and David V. Perez ’15) had an outstanding performance earning a Gold medal in one of the largest sparing divisions. Defeating 5 teams, the men’s C1 showed their endurance and determination to take the Gold. This earned Golf a double Gold (both poomsae and sparring) at his second tournament.

Particularly noteworthy were the positive attitudes and enthusiasm of the team members, cheering vivaciously on the sidelines. 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 384 points (more than 100 points more than the previous tournament). Rival Cornell took first after the sparing competition, with 683 points.