Soldiers strike gold, two silvers at Taekwondo Championships
July 10, 2009
By Tim Hipps
AUSTIN, Texas (Army News Service, July 10, 2009) -- Second Lt. Steven Ostrander struck gold, and Sgts. William Rider and Louis Davis won silver medals at the 2009 U.S. National Taekwondo Championships on July 5.
Ostrander, a U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program martial artist from San Antonio, celebrated a homecoming of sorts by winning his third national crown before family and friends at the Austin Convention Center.
Ostrander, however, wished one other person could have attended the tournament: 1st Lt. Amanda Ostrander, his wife, who is deployed at Camp Liberty, Iraq.
Ostrander got busy in his first heavyweight match, a 12-1 victory over Jonathan Lee of New Jersey. He capped the conquest with a spin-hook kick that dropped Lee, who took a standing eight-count during the waning seconds of the bout.
"I knew that he was going to come hard," said Ostrander, a 6-foot-2, 224-pounder. "I felt that he was coming and just went ahead and spun. In 2006, I had a knockout with a spin-hook kick. I thought I might have caught him, too, but he was a big guy and it just wasn't hard enough."
Ostrander received three points for the head shot and one more for the standing eight in the sport that awards three points for a kick to the head, two points for a back kick or turning behind jump kick, and one point for a regular single kick or a punch that creates tremble and shock. About 90 percent of the scoring is kick-oriented.
Ostrander's semifinal opponent defaulted because of injury.
"I was actually kind of disappointed about that," Ostrander said. "Normally, my first match is my toughest because of first-fight jitters, getting warmed up, and making sure everything is ready. My second fight is usually one of my better fights, and I get stronger as the day goes on. Going into the finals, the other guy had a fight (in the semis) so he was still warm, but I had to go to the back and take care of myself. Because I was feeling really good today, I wanted to keep that up, especially with my family and friends here to see me fight."
Ostrander did not let them down. He prevailed 14-1 over Mehdi Dehghani of Virginia in the finals.
"It was a challenge for myself. Going for my third national championship, I can't go back from here, I can only go forward. Not only did I have the pressure of winning, but repeating. That's sometimes the hardest thing to do," Ostrander said.
A three-time NCAA champion for the Aggies, Ostrander won senior men's national titles in 2002 and 2008. He also won a silver medal in the 2002 Collegiate World Championships at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2005, he served as captain for the Collegiate National Team that competed in Izmir, Turkey, where he lost his first match by one point in overtime to an Iranian.
Ostrander, 26, joined the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program in August of 2006.
Rider, a WCAP martial artist from Orangeburg, S.C., lost 5-3 in the featherweight finale to 17-year-old Jaysen Ishida of Hawaii. The score was tied at 3 in the second of three 2-minute periods, but Ishida tallied one more point in both the second and third.
"It was a good match against a tough opponent; I just didn't dominate like I should have," said Rider, who has competed in five national championships.
In his quarterfinal match, Rider rallied from a 5-2 deficit after two periods to defeat Colorado's Jacob Amerman in sudden-death overtime. Rider pulled into an 8-8 tie with a kick that dropped Amerman in the waning seconds of the third period.
"I've trained with him before," Rider said. "Even though I was down on points, I just had to stick to coach and mine's plan - not look for the big shot, hit him on points to the body, and stay confident."
In the semifinals, Rider broke a 5-5 tie by knocking out Californian Cory King with a powerful kick to the ribs with 1 minute, 3 seconds remaining in the second round.
"In my 25 years of Taekwondo, I think that's the second time I've ever seen a body shot knockout, and the first from a roundhouse kick," Bartlett said.
Davis, 38, of Fort Lewis, Wash., banged up his right foot, right knee and tore tendons in his left thumb before losing 3-2 to Georgia's Curtis Barnett in the finals of the welterweight division. Competing in his eighth national championship tournament, Davis said he blocked out the pain until his day was done.
"I didn't feel a darn thing until after the (final) match was over," said Davis, who injured his thumb during a semifinal victory over Darrell Rydholm, a former member of WCAP. "I just chalked it up as 'bang, I got hit.'"
The goal for Davis, a 2005 national champion, was to win another gold medal before deploying to Iraq in October.
"I did my best to follow coach's instructions to the letter, but there is more I can do," Davis said. "In the final, I made errors that I should not have made. I was better than the other guy, however, I just made one too many errors. I got impatient.
Davis, a native of Chicago reared in Minneapolis, Minn., said this tournament was personal.
"The truth of the matter, the other part is these guys," he said. "Fighting side-by-side with these Soldiers, that's a great honor. Our battlefield is that mat. We're representing every Soldier - able-bodied, wounded, people who have gone out and paid the price - that's what we do."
(Tim Hipps is with Family and Moral, Welfare and Recreation Command's Public Affairs.)