Hudson resident Vincie Ripepi, a freshman at Kent State University, defeated Mexican National Collegiate Team Member to win a gold medal at Jimmy Kim Invitational taekwondo tournament Sept. 28 in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
The prestigious tournament is one of the larger national martial arts tournaments.
More than 900 competitors from American, Mexico and Tahiti participated in the event.
Weighing in at 176 pounds, Ripepi normally fights in the age 18-to-32 welterweight division.
For this tournament, Ripepi fought in the middleweight division, competing in a tougher division against larger opponents.
The welterweight division spans weights from 165 to 176 pounds; middleweight spans 177 to 191 pounds.
Ripepi's first fight was against Montana's Josh Dohr, 20, a ranked Amateur Athletic Union and collegiate competitor. Ripepi punched hard to take a 9-0 lead at the end of the first round and cruised to the win.
Ripepi's final fight was against Mexico's Gabriel Segura Gallardy.
A powerful, much larger and very experienced opponent, Segura Gallardy was on his country's National Collegiate Team in 2012 and 2013. Standing 6 feet, 4 inches tall, the 26-year-old Segura Gallardy weighed in at the 191-pound limit.
Segura Gallardy tested Ripepi's resolve; the Mexican competitor had a commanding 6-2 lead after the first round.
At the end of the second, Ripepi was still behind 8-5.
During the third round, Ripepi continued closing the gap. With seconds left to go, Ripepi landed a jump sidekick, knocking Segura Gallardy out of the ring for the win.
"Vincie has really good ring presence," says Grand Master Ryan Andrachik, Ripepi's coach and father. "He understands motion. He understands people's reactions to what he's going to do.
"Fighting is very much like chess. He's very focused. He wants to be the USA National Collegiate Team member in 2014 on his way to the Olympics."
Ripepi recently was ranked third in points in the nation for welterweights in the new National Sport Taekwondo Rankings as compiled by USA Taekwondo, the National Governing Body for the sport of Taekwondo in the United States, which is exclusively recognized by the United States Olympic Committee.
Ripepi has been invited to audition for the USA Taekwondo National Team in January. His next major competition is the Las Vegas Open Nov. 9.
A fifth-degree black belt, Ripepi recently graduated from Hudson High School. In 2013 international competition, he has made it to the quarterfinals at both the 2013 US Open as well as the Canada Open, which took place in May in Toronto, Ontario.
This year marks his second appearance at the Kim Invitational. Last year, Ripepi won gold medals in the junior welterweight and senior welterweight sparring divisions. In recent months, he has beaten two International Collegiate players from Student World University Games.
Ripepi represents the Asian Sun Martial Arts Team.