Flames will send 10 tae kwon do fighters to nationals in Colo.
April 13, 2016 | Blacksburg, Va.
Liberty University's men's and women's tae kwon do teams entered 18 student-athletes in the spring semester's only Atlantic Collegiate Alliance of Taekwondo (ACAT) tournament, hosted by Virginia Tech on April 2. The Flames and Lady Flames returned to Lynchburg with 16 medals for top-three finishes in various belt and weight divisions.
Lady Flames sophomore fourth-degree black belt Moriah Martin won the female middleweight black belt division while senior heavyweight Tykeyah Henderson, who captured the yellow belt title at last year's National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) National Championships, finished first in the combined heavyweight red/green belt category.
Sophomore Sadie Newton finished first in black belt forms and second in lightweight black belt fighting while senior Jennelle Chew captured the gold medal in red belt forms and placed third in lightweight red belt fighting.
For Liberty's men, sophomore third-degree black belt Michael Personius struck gold in the heavyweight black belt division, defeating the top contenders twice on his way to the title. Freshman second-degree black belt Drew Haack won the middleweight red belt fighting competition and Chris Davis placed first in the heavyweight blue belt category.
Freshman Thomas Siff, who won his heavyweight red belt division at the Pan Am University Championships, held Oct. 25 in West Point, N.Y., placed second in the middleweight red belt division at Virginia Tech.
"If we had a most-improved award, he'd probably get it," Liberty Head Coach Tom Childress said. "He has come in and really grown phenomenally. He demands perfection in himself, which is an admirable trait, and he's an all-around team player. He's extremely competitive, but also a leader, working with the beginners."
Also for Liberty's men, junior Jonathan Panzenera placed second in the men's middleweight yellow belt competition, junior Waynette Angerville was runner-up in the lightweight white belt category, Nathan Chandler finished third in the heavyweight white belt division, and junior Isaiah Handog placed third in middleweight red belt fighting.
|Liberty senior April Handog (right) lands a kick in her middleweight blue belt match at Virginia Tech.|
April Handog, a senior and Isaiah's older sister, was the runner-up in the women's middleweight blue belt division.
Childress will take 10 team members (five women and five men) to the 41st annual NCTA National Championships, set for April 22-24 at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo. — Martin (women's lightweight black belt), Newton (women's featherweight black belt), Henderson (women's heavyweight green belt), April Handog (women's middleweight blue belt), senior Leah Deaton (women's lightweight blue belt), sophomore Adam Saxton (men's middleweight black belt), Personius (men's heavyweight black belt), sophomore Matt Gallagher (men's lightweight black belt), Isaiah Handog (men's middleweight yellow belt), and Haack (men's middleweight red belt).
While there are no team champions awarded, Childress believes all 10 Liberty competitors have decent shots at medaling at the national event will have a field of more than 600 collegiate student-athletes.