In its third and final tune-up before hosting an invitational tournament April 5, the club taekwondo team finished seventh at the Princeton Invitational in Princeton, N.J.
The tourney was the Bulldogs’ third Ivy Northeastern Taekwando Club League competition of the season. The INTCL has a membership of 20 schools, including multiple Ivy League squads, New York University, the United States Military Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yale finished first of the 17 competing schools at Princeton.
Tournament scoring is based on two events: team sparring and the form-sets or “poomse” event. In sparring, teams of three advance by winning at least two of three matches in the heavyweight, middleweight and lightweight divisions. Form-sets are individual performances scored for technique by judges. Both events are broken into men’s and women’s divisions, with A, B and C divisions for each gender.
The teams that finish near the top of each event will “place,” earning points that count toward their squad’s final score. Yale will compete in six total INTCL tournaments this season, with the team’s cumulative score determining its place in the season standings.
At Princeton, Yale finished second in men’s A sparring and placed in women’s C sparring.
The men’s A squad, composed of lightweight Farley Neamson ’06, middleweight Lucas Britanico ’03 and heavyweight Chanu Rhee ’02, lost to Army in the finals. Britanico, who competed at home in the Philippine junior nationals and finished third at nationals in 2000, said he was impressed with his teammates and felt they had a good chance of winning if not for his and Rhee’s injuries in their final matches. Rhee, who began his training in taekwondo as a sophomore and returned to the club this year while he does graduate research, reinjured his ACL and could barely stand and walk.
“[Rhee] would be the poster boy of Yale taekwondo,” Britanico said, describing how hard Rhee trained as an undergraduate member. A number of inexperienced members join the club and work hard to improve their skill, with some, like Rhee, eventually earning black belts.
Neamson’s arrival has helped the team cope with the loss of several seniors.
“He has a lot of experience,” Britanico said. “This kid is really talented and has amazing flexibility and a lot of heart.”
The women’s C team also placed despite competing in only two of the three weight classes. Joe Gecan ’03, who competes in the men’s B division, said he was pleased with the performances of inexperienced fighters Dipa Joshi ’06 and Goh Yoon ’06.
“We had a lot of new people who placed at this event,” Gecan said, adding that only about a third of Yale’s participants were experienced fighters.
This season is a rebuilding year for the Bulldogs. After a second place finish in last year’s INTCL behind Cornell, the team dropped to the middle of the league this year. Gecan and Britanico attribute this drop to the loss of last year’s seniors as well as an increase in league parity.
Seniors like Gecan, as well as the team’s returning coach, Robert Hwang, who is also the taekwondo instructor at a school in Stratford, Conn, and experienced Yale faculty assistant coaches, are helping new club members earn valuable experience.
Gecan and Rhee said they are excited about the Yale Invitational April 5 and see it as a great opportunity for the entire club to participate in the tournament competition. In addition to the collegiate competition, pros from America, Europe and Korea will also be competing at Payne Whitney Gymnasium that weekend.
“We’ll be able to field a lot of true squads that we’ve been developing through the year,” Gecan said. “I’ve been to three [Yale tournaments] and they keep getting better.”