Colorado Springs, Colo. – Hundreds of fighters and their families flocked from all over the country to compete in the 38th National Collegiate Taekwondo Championship on Saturday April 13. The two-day tournament was hosted at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and held competitions in forms on Saturday and sparring on Sunday.
Metro State University was among 70 schools enrolled for the competition. Some of the big-name schools such as Duke, Cornell, Yale, Stanford, and MIT also made an appearance. Although not all of ACT’s (Auraria Campus Taekwondo) fighters earned medals, a few were skilled enough to walk away with one to take home. MSU student Ivan Smirnou, high-red belt, has trained long and hard for this tournament. He and his friend Daniil Dorovskikh, green belt, both came from Russia and both fought their way to first place in their divisions. Smirnou fought in the red belt division against Stanford for the gold while Dorovskikh was paired up against Princeton in his green/ blue belt division. They both defeated several other schools to make it to the finals.
“It feels great to win gold for Metro among those big schools like MIT and Penn State,” Smirnou added after the competition. “To show them that we can kick as well.”
A handful of other students from ACT placed third in their respective divisions: Adrian Salazar earned bronze in yellow belt forms and sparring events. Billy Garduno and Darius Ray also earned bronze medals for their efforts in the sparring ring. And Lydia McCullough took bronze in red belt sparring. In the black belt division, Heather Gibson also took home a bronze medal.
ACT head coach and MSU professor Master Bill Pottle had nothing but good things to say about his students’ performances. “I’m really proud of all the students whether they medaled or not. They showed a lot of heart to step on the mat and face against competitors from top schools around the country,” says Pottle. “Even the ones who didn’t medal were close to doing so.” Overall, MSU placed 7th out of the 70 schools that participated.
In November 2012, MSU competed in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate TKD League tournament in Henderson, CO and took first place. Historically, MSU remains undefeated amongst schools in Colorado. With the results from nationals they will once again be RMCTL Champions, placing ahead of CU Boulder, CSU, UNC, ACC, and Air Force.
Although it is always a great sensation to return home with a gold medal hanging around your neck, nothing beats the feeling of your buddies cheering you on in the ring. “The best feeling was when all my teammates were down there and were cheering me on,” says Dorovskikh. “The medal was great, but it can’t be compared to my friends’ support.”