The MIT Sport Taekwondo team captured its third consecutive overall Collegiate National Title on April 17 and 18 during the 34th annual National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) Championships at Metro State College in Denver, Colo.
The team, led by Head Coach Dan Chuang and senior captains Zhechen “Mary” Hong and Jason Uh, took the title by a lofty 12-point margin, 59-47, over Brown University. MIT is now tied with UC Berkeley for the most consecutive overall national titles since the division’s inception in 1997.
The tournament also served as the selection process for the U.S National Collegiate Taekwondo Team, and black belts who placed in the top two in forms for the Team Trials division, or black belts who placed in the top two for sparring, earned the right to represent the United States at one of two international collegiate Taekwondo championships: the World University Taekwondo Championships in Vigo, Spain (July 2010) and the Pan American University Taekwondo Championships in Lima, Peru (November 2010).
The two-day tournament began with forms (poomsae) competition, where competitors performed patterned movements judged on grade of execution, power, grace and control. Highlights for MIT from the colored belts included a one-two-three sweep in the women’s red belt forms, with junior Hsinjung “Sophia” Li leading the way, followed by freshman Kristina L. Lozoya and Hong. Sophomores Teresa “Ty” Lin and Heejung Kim took first and second in the women’s blue belt division, while graduate student Christopher M. Williams captured the crown in the men’s blue belt division. Rounding out the novice division were the green belts, with juniors Bradley Wu and Angela N. Chang both claiming second in the men’s and women’s light divisions, respectively. Sophomore Stephanie Chen secured bronze in the women’s light, and sophomore Mengfei Yang placed second in the women’s heavy division.
The true standouts, however, belonged to the black belts. Sophomore Erika Lee finished first in the women’s second-degree black belt division. Uh earned top honors in the men’s first-degree black belt division, while junior Daniel Sauza took second in men’s second-degree.
Also held at the championships were team trials for the United States National Collegiate Taekwondo Poomsae Team. Alicia Y. Zhou ’06 and Bobby B. Ren ’05 took first in the mixed pairs division. Ren also placed second in men’s individual forms. Zhou and Lee, along with fellow competitor Carissa Fu from Princeton, clinched first in women’s team poomsae while Sauza, Ren, and Richard-Duane Chambers ’07 took first place in the men’s team division. All will represent the U.S. in Spain later this year.
The second day of competition focused on sparring, beginning with the novice division. Junior Jennifer Tran easily rose to the top of the women’s yellow belt welterweight division by winning three straight matches, while newcomers Nan Wang and Yunxin “Joy” Jiao, both sophomores, captured second and third in the fly and featherweights, respectively. The blue and green belts also fought equally well. Williams won gold in the men’s heavyweight by a huge margin, while Lin dominated the women’s welterweight division after overcoming a kick to the face. Yang, freshman Xuan Yang, sophomore Tiffany Chen and Chang also secured bronze in their respective weight divisions. The red belts enjoyed their last hurrah in the novice division with an equally strong showing. Li went undefeated to claim her second gold of the evening in women’s welterweight, while senior David Wen (men’s feather) and Lozoya (women’s heavy) both came away with silver medals. Hsueh and Tara Sarathi, both sophomores, rounded out the competition by taking bronze in women’s feather.
Like poomsae, the black belt sparring also served as the team trials for the U.S. squad. Christine Chin ’09 (middle) fought her way to the top, losing only to a fighter from Arizona State to clinch silver. Lee (welter) also pushed through to the end, falling in a close match to West Point’s Marisa Yarmie and taking silver. Both qualified for the Pan Am University Team, and will travel to Peru later this year. For the men, Chambers earned his first national medal by beating out more than 30 competitors to clinch the bronze in the men’s light division.