US National Collegiate Taekwondo Team Selected at 37th National Collegiate Taekwondo Championships
The National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) held the 37th National Collegiate Taekwondo Championships on April 7 and 8, 2012 in Cambridge, MA at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, hosted by tournament director Dan Chuang, and presided over by NCTA president Russell Ahn. An event-record 601 athletes participated from over 100 different colleges and universities. At the conclusion of the tournament, 23 athletes were selected to represent the United States at the World University Taekwondo Championships in Pocheon, Korea on May 25-30, 2012.
Seven athletes were selected to represent the United States in the poomsae divisions. Long Nguyen (San Jose State University) won the men's individual division, and Rene Chen (Rhode Island School of Design) won the women's individual division. Long Nguyen and Hazel Cruz (Santa Clara University) won the mixed pair division. Nguyen, Alvin Jong (University of California, Davis), and Lance Supnet (Evergreen Valley College) earned the men's team spot, and Chen, Carissa Fu (Princeton University) and Miyako Yerrick (Columbia University) earned the women's team spot. Long Nguyen, Chen, Jong and Fu are all returning members to the collegiate poomsae team from the 2011 World University Games. Fu is a three time collegiate poomsae team member and earned a bronze medal at the 2010 World University Taekwondo Championships in women's team poomsae.
The sparring divisions were contested in a single elimination bracket, with double elimination beginning at the semifinal rounds. In the men's divisions, the winners were Johnny Nguyen (54 kg, Mesa Community College), Tyler Sawyer (58 kg, Santa Clara University), Stepfon Westbrook (63 kg, California State University of Northridge), Jensen Ishida (68 kg, University of Hawaii-Manoa), Thomas Rahimi (74 kg, North Lake Community College), Phillip Yun (80 kg, University of the Pacific), Phil Drake (87 kg, East Carolina University), and Stephen Lambdin (over 87 kg, Oklahoma City Community College). Sawyer, Westbrook, Ishida, Yun and Lambdin are returning team members from 2011. Johnny Nguyen and Lambdin are both four time team members, with Nguyen earning a bronze medal at the 2006 World University Taekwondo Championships and Lambdin earning a bronze medal at the 2008 World University Taekwondo Championships.
In the women's sparring divisions, this year's team members are Kelsey Kitagawa (46 kg, University of Hawaii-Manoa), Haley Kong (49 kg, Stanford University), Aziza Chambers (53 kg, Wright State University), Emilia Morrow (57 kg, Miami Dade College), Nicole Palma (62 kg, University of Miami), Alexandra Cinque (67 kg, Fordham University), Kelly Fairbanks (73 kg, Hillsdale Community College), and Danielle Harrison (over 73 kg, Johnson and Wales University). Chambers and Harrison are both returning team members. Chambers is a 3-time team member and earned a bronze medal at the 2011 World University Games.
The male athlete of the year was Phillip Yun. Yun won the 80 kg division for the second year in a row and reached the quarterfinals at last year's World University Games. The female athlete of the year was Rene Chen. Chen has qualified 5 poomsae team spots during the past 2 years and reached the finals in the female individual poomsae division at last year's World University Games. The freshman athlete of the year was Haley Kong, who won the female flyweight division and the female 2nd Dan lightweight forms division during her first year of collegiate eligibility.
The coach of the year was Kent Kitagawa of Stanford University, who coached both Kong and Sawyer to national team spots in the sparring divisions. The referees of the year were Leslie Cheung (male) and Hyowon Choe (female).