Two freshmen claim national Tae Kwon Do championships
April 5, 2015 | Newark, Del.
Liberty University's Tae Kwon Do team struck gold twice at the 40th annual National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) National Championships, hosted over Easter weekend by the University of Delaware.
Freshman middleweight Jonathan Healy captured a black belt national championship one day after freshman heavyweight Tykeyah Henderson earned a yellow belt title. Non-black belt divisional titles were awarded on Saturday before black belt champions were crowned on Easter Sunday.
"This was the largest NCTA Championships to date with nearly 600 competitors from colleges throughout the United States, with Liberty being the newest to attend for the last two years," Flames third-year Head Coach Jesse Wilson said. "It was an amazing weekend for the team. We trained champions in Christ's name and on the weekend of celebrating His resurrection, He lifted us up so that we could rise as Champions for Christ."
|Flames freshman, middleweight black belt champ Jonathan Healy|
Healy, a Junior Olympic national team member from Houston, won his collegiate national title a day after he turned 18.
"Jonathan is a major contender in Taekwondo and is striving to one day be in the Olympics," Wilson said. "He is currently ranked in the top 100 competitors in the world with a (17-and-under) Olympic ranking of 96."
Healy, who was named NCTA freshman athlete of the year, will now have the opportunity to represent Liberty and Team USA at the July 7-13 World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea.
For the Lady Flames, Moriah Martin — a freshman from Anchorage, Alaska, and a three-time Team USA junior national team member — placed third in the women's lightweight black belt division.
On Saturday, Liberty reaped first-, second-, and third-place medals in various divisions. Henderson claimed the women's heavyweight yellow belt national championship in memory of her father.
"Tykeyah's dad recently passed away and she promised him that she was going to win this for him right before he died," Wilson said. "She upheld her promise."
Meanwhile, sophomore Thien-Nam "Ty" Hoang placed second in the men's red belt heavyweight classification — losing his final match by one point — and sophomore Emmanuel Dii finished third in the men's heavyweight green belt competition.
Other Liberty team members who competed included black belts Sadie Newton, Michael Personius, Danielle Gallagher, and Matthew Gallagher and green belts April Lyn Handog and Biranganine "John" Ntibonera.
"While they did not win in their respective divisions, they did show great effort in their performance and I couldn't be more proud of their accomplishments," Wilson said. "They are just as much champions as they helped to support their teammates and give them the encouragement they needed to win their divisions."