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After a strong showing at the United States Olympic Training Center trials for the United States National Team, 18-year-old Hudson resident Vincie Ripepi is the No. 3-ranked men's welterweight taekwondo competitor (age 18 to 32) in the U.S.
The USA Taekwondo division is home to elite competitors in their physical prime.
Weighing in at 176 pounds, Ripepi fights in the welterweight division, which spans weights from 165 to 176 pounds.
Ripepi was one of hundreds of athletes auditioning for a shot at a National Team Spot Jan. 11 in Colorado Springs.
Ripepi fought top world-class competitors, making a splash in his first bid for future Olympic slot.
In his first fight, Ripepi sparred T.J. Curry, 27, a USAT team member and ranked international competitor. Curry won the bout.
In his final fight, Ripepi sparred one of his heroes, Steven Lopez, the most decorated taekwondo athlete of all time.
Lopez has participated in four Olympics and placed in three. In addition, he has won gold in five World Taekwondo Federation World Championships.
Lopez's veteran experience was enough to defeat Ripepi. Lopez ultimately claimed a spot on the USAT Olympic Team for the 21st year in a row.
"This was his first year," said Master Ryan Andrachik, who is Ripepi's father. "And we arrived knowing the odds are not good toward placing in your first year.
"If you look at the level of people he competed against, it's the difference between the best high school football player in the country and someone in the NFL.
"These guys are pros. But he'll be back. It is amazing that he made it to Team Trials being only 18."
Ripepi is planning to compete in the World Taekwondo Federation's U.S. Open and Canada Open this month. In April, he is planning to fight in the German Open, warming up for July's U.S. National Tournament.
A fifth-degree black belt, Ripepi graduated from Hudson High School in 2013. He is a freshman at Kent State, where he studies Exercise Physiology.
In 2013, Ripepi earned a win at California's Jimmy Kim Invitational taekwondo tournament.
Ripepi is a senior instructor on the Asian Sun Martial Arts Team.
For more information about individual competitors, including a picture of Ripepi with Lopez and bios, contact Asian Sun at 330-650-6333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.