ECTC Closes Out 2015-2016 Season at Vermont
by Rae Drach
ECTC Tournament Committee Member
May 4 (Albany, NY) - On Saturday, April 9, the University of Vermont hosted the fifth and final tournament of the Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) 2015-2016 competition season in Burlington, VT. This was the most highly attended Vermont tournament, with 282 competitors from 20 schools competing in forms (poomsae) and sparring (kyorugi). In Division I, Cornell University claimed first with 544 points and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) placed second with 313 points. In Division II, the United States Military Academy at West Point lead with 328 points, the University of Connecticut placed second with 131 points, and Rutgers University claimed third with 118 points. In Division III, New York University placed first with 76 points, followed by Northeastern University with 35 points and Harvard University with 21 points.
The tournament began with poomsae, which included Black Belt and Red Belt Mixed Pairs divisions. In Mixed Pairs poomsae, one male and one female athlete compete together simultaneously. The athletes must not only attempt to perform at their highest level as judged against the WTF standards, but also do so while remaining synchronized. While the Mixed Pairs poomsae divisions do not score points this year, they are a unique opportunity to practice a division contested at both the national and international levels. In the black belt division, Lesko and Turgeon from the University of Connecticut won gold, and Todd and Wang from Cornell received silver. In the red belt division, Cornell’s Wang and Disare clinched first, while Gall and Dave placed second.
In black belt individual poomsae, Evangeline Tsai (Boston University) and Andrew Hurd (Northeastern) clinched gold in the women’s and men’s divisions, respectively. Hyunji Kim (Cornell) won the women’s red belt division, while Sangyu Suh won the men’s red belt division. The gold medalists in the blue belt division were Christina Kim (Elmira College) for the women and Carlos Wainwright (Cornell) for the men. The women’s green belt division winner was Hannah Yang (Cornell), and the men’s green belt division winner was Waeya Lin (Elmira). The women’s and men’s white/yellow division winners were Mei Kimura (Albany) and Peter Walczyk (Connecticut), respectively.
In sparring, the men’s A-team (advanced level) sparring finals consisted of Cornell A1 (Jared Gurba, Brian Wang, Jeremy Fredricks) earning gold with a win over West Point A1 (Matt Galea, Jordan Nettles, Caleb Lim). In the women’s A-team finals, Cornell A1 (Hijab Khan, Hyunji Kim, Alanna Todd) also clinched gold over Princeton A1 (Avery Forrow, Elaine Chou, Jean Smith). In the men’s B-team (intermediate level) division, West Point B1 (Will Xu, Ellis Valdez, Eli Eichenberger) won gold, while Cornell B1 (Daniel Veronese, Aibar Nurmukhanov, Curtis Sumner) claimed silver. In the women’s division, MIT B1 (Yang Dai, Jackie Wu, Sam Amey-Gonzalez) won in the finals over Caroline Scheck and Eliza Schreibman. In C-team (beginner level), the men’s division was won by West Point C1 (Takhyun Cho, Tommy Lor, John Mueller) over silver medalist Rutgers C1 (Colin Chiang, Gabriel Rodriguez, Farukh Cheema). Finally, NYU C1 (Yuening Zhu, Alyssa Martinez) won over Rutgers C1 (Sharon Liu, Caitlin Chasmar, Nawon Park) in the women’s C-team finals.
As the last tournament of the 2015-2016 season, league standings were finalized and end-of year accolades were awarded. Cornell University won Division I and the overall rankings with 2189 points, while MIT came in second with 1405 points. Tufts rounded out Division I with 812 total points. West Point claimed a resounding victory in Division II (and placed third overall) with 1265 points. Rutgers University and Columbia University won second and third in Division II with 586 and 482 points, respectively. In Division III, Duke University claimed first place with 274 points, while Harvard University followed with 239 points, and New York University placed third with 153 points. This impressive showing by many schools resulted in several division changes for the coming 2016-2017 season. All schools joining the ECTC are initially part of Division III. If a school reaches 200 points in a season, they move up to Division II for the following season. If a school reaches 800 points, they move up to Division I for the following season. After two consecutive seasons below a division’s threshold, a school is moved down to the appropriate division based on the previous season’s conference points. For the coming season, the University of Michigan, the University at Albany, and SUNY Cortland will move from Division II to Division III, while Duke University and Harvard University will move from Division III to Division II. Finally, West Point after just one year in Division II will move up to Division I. This will mark next season as the first to have four schools compete in Division I, showcasing the growing talent and competitiveness of the ECTC.
One trademark of the final tournament of the season includes recognizing outstanding individuals who contribute to the league in various ways. First and foremost, three student awards are given. This year’s Student Leadership Award, presented to a student competitor who has showcased the values of leadership and community throughout their ECTC career, was awarded to Master Yvette Boon (Boston University) who has competed, coached, and/or participated in the Tournament Committee since 2005. Two Most Valuable Performer Awards are also presented to competitors who have consistently demonstrated excellent performance in the league. This year’s Male MVP was awarded to Matthew Galea (West Point), while this year’s female MVP was awarded to Jean Smith (Princeton). Tournament Committee members are also recognized for their hard work and commitment to the smooth functioning of tournaments. This year’s Male and Female Tournament Committee Members of the Year were Andrew Mandelbaum (Princeton, MIT) and Rae Drach (Princeton, Albany), respectively. Finally, a Male and Female Referee of the year are recognized for their integrity and dedication to the tenets of taekwondo. This year’s Male and Female Referees of the Year were Nirav Daphtary and Evangeline Tsai (Boston University), respectively.
Overall, the ECTC had an outstanding 2015-2016 season. The league continues to grow and is looking forward to welcoming new and returning inspirational athletes, coaches, referees, tournament committee members, and volunteers in the fall.
Correction: (May 4, 2016) The Men's Green Belt Division winner is Waeya Lin (Elmira).
About the ECTC
The Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC), formerly known as the Ivy Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League, is a 501(c)3 non-profit collegiate league, active since 1983, that seeks to foster the development of student-athletes in Taekwondo. The ECTC offers a fun, intense, and unique team-oriented competition experience featuring Olympic-style sparring and forms competition at all levels by hosting five tournaments each academic school year at schools around the Eastern United States. Clubs from among 30 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada vie each academic year for the League Cup by accumulating points at each of the league tournaments.
As a 501(c)3 non-profit collegiate taekwondo league, the ECTC hosts five tournaments a year and selects an All-Star team of outstanding league athletes who travel to train and/or compete once a year. The five tournaments of the 2015-16 season were held at MIT (October 18), Cornell University (November 8), Brown University (November 22), Princeton University (February 28), and University of Vermont (April 9). Historically, 300-500 competitors from more than 30 colleges and universities attend these tournaments. Competitors earn points for their school by medaling in forms and sparring, with higher belt divisions (skill level) allotted more points. While all schools compete against each other during the course of each tournament, league standings are separated into Division I, II, and III. Schools are separated into each division based on a two-year history of performance in the league.
The ECTC utilizes a team sparring format, in which 3-person teams (consisting of a light, middle and heavyweight division and up to two alternates) compete in a single elimination format against other schools, with the team that wins 2 or more matches advancing in the bracket. This team sparring format encourages schools to develop depth of talent and fosters team spirit and spirited rivalries between schools. The league also enforces World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) standards across all poomsae divisions and utilizes electronic poomsae scoring for black and red belt divisions.
Photo Credit: ECTC Tournament Committee