Taekwondo takes 2nd at University of Vermont

The MIT Taekwondo team placed second in Division I at the final Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) tournament of the year. This tournament was held at the University of Vermont on April 9, hosting 17 schools with about 290 competitors.

The day began with the poomsae competition, in which competitors are judged on their performance of choreographed forms. It was the first time competing for many in their respective divisions, having recently moved up a belt rank. Nevertheless, the team earned medals from both veterans and recently-promoted members.

Consistent high-scorers during the season, Tam Nguyen G and Renee Zhao ’18 placed second and third respectively in the highly competitive women’s black belt division. Co-captain Tahin Syed G and Ruben Amaez ’16 finished in the finals of the men’s black belt division, placing 5th and 8th, respectively.

In the women’s red belt division, Nina Anwar ’18 placed second among a sea of competitors. Yang Dai ’16, with sharp movements and a precise cat stance, made her way to third. Emily Zhu ’18 exhibited her soaring front kicks to win third in her first poomsae competition in the women’s green belt division. In the men’s yellow belt division, first-time competitor Josh Murdock G placed in the top 10.

The team had a stronger performance during the sparring rounds later in the day. The sparring teams scored points for all divisions, the first time that has happened in a while.

All three MIT A teams matched up against the ECTC’s fiercest competitors, and the rounds were not easy. Both women’s A1 (Jean Chow ’16, Zhao, co-captain Andy Guatemala ’16) and women’s A2 (Nguyen, Maria Alexis G) teams tied for bronze, fighting both injury and tough opponents. In the men’s division, the two-member A1 team (Amaez, Nicholas Hensel G) made it to quarterfinals. Both Amaez and Chow scored their first A team victories this tournament with their new black belts.

The MIT B teams similarly fought close matches and scored point gaps. In one of the last matches of the tournament, women’s B1 (Dai, Jackie Wu ’16, Sam Amey-Gonzales ’18) ended the day on a high note with a gold. This match was one of many that showcased the positive attitude and enthusiasm of the team members, cheering enthusiastically on the sidelines. Women’s B2 (Anwar, Ashley Wang ’17) won bronze, while men’s B1 (Akwasi Owusu-Akyaw ’17, Manuel Guillen ’18, and Mitchell Hwang ’18) qualified for the quarterfinals.

In the C team division, both Women’s C1 (Gina Yuan ’19, Zhu) and Men’s C1 (Joel Argueta ’16, Rick Vink G) made it to the quarterfinals, scoring important points for the team.

Tallying the results of the entire season, the MIT Sport Taekwondo team placed second overall in Division I in the ECTC League with 1405 points, behind long-time rival Cornell. The team will continue to train hard in preparation for the National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) Championships in Colorado on April 22 and 23.