UCSF Pharmacy School Hosts Sumo Smackdown!
By Oliver Ubeda
The first-ever UCSF School of Pharmacy Sumo Smackdown came to the world-famous — well, at least, UCSF-famous — Cole Hall arena last week. This hallowed place has been witness to a lot of student carnage throughout the years, but usually in the form of brutal midterms and mind-blowing finals administered by the different professional schools.
Ladies and gentlemen, this year, the carnage became physical, as 10 bold contestants representing all three pharmacy-school classes came ready to rumble.
Donning inflatable sumo suits, the students took to the mat for fun, the thrill of competition and class bragging rights. Music — including songs like “Eye of the Tiger” and “Beat It” — blared all evening, pumping up the fighters and the audience.
“I’m going to use mind games and the intimidation factor — all 5 foot 7 inches and 140 pounds of me,” Mike Yang (P2) joked before his match.
The rules, enforced by David “The Ref” Troelstrup (P3), were to shove the opponent out of the ring or knock him down, each for a point, for as many times as possible in two consecutive 45-second rounds. In the event of a tie, a third round would be fought.
The first round of five matches got under way with Francisco Ibarra (P3) fighting Paul Mello (P2), and what a fight it was. Both wrestlers battled with power and intensity through three exciting rounds, with Ibarra emerging the victor by a narrow margin.
The second fight, between Polina Pulyanina (P1) and Justin Barca (P2), was more fun and less fight, involving dance, pushing and shoving. Pulyanina did at one point “go for the legs” to take down Barca and win her match.
The second intense match up of the evening was between Yifan She (P2) and Mike Yang (P2). She came out swinging from the get-go, as he showed off his high-school wrestling skills and overpowered Mike “The Destroyer” Yang. At one point, She flipped the 140-pound Yang, slamming him to the mat as if he was playing with a pillow.
Nicha Tantipinichwong (P3) and Ashley Aqueche (P3) brought on the “girl fight,” but not before exchanging pleasantries and “I love you’s.” They battled and danced around each other as gracefully as anyone in a large plastic sumo suit can do. Aqueche prevailed after three rounds in what can best be described as a polite and artistic fight.
Jeff Moss (P3), who took Dave Truong (P2) down in his first match, faced Francisco Ibarra in his second match and lost. At one point in the match, Ibarra knocked down Moss, flopped on top of him and balanced — inflated belly stacked on inflated belly — as they posed for a photo opp.
Ashley “The Ruthless”Aqueche, fired up from her win against Tantipinichwong, fought Pulyanina in her second fight. No more pleasantries here, as Aqueche danced victorious into her semifinal match.
Then, Yifan She fought Aqueche by slowly — and kindly — pushing her out of the ring. As the match grew less intense, the wrestlers showed off some fun sumo dancing and twirling. She eventually eliminated Aqueche.
In between rounds — as sumo suits were deflated, exchanged and inflated — the audience was treated to a dance-off competition and a joke competition. Winners received gift cards to Starbucks or Jamba Juice.
The title fight of the evening came down to Francisco “Iron Bar” Ibarra vs. Yifan “The Wall” She. These two great contenders, who had dominated their previous opponents, would finally face off on the mat, mano a mano, adorned in sumo suit splendor.
What was Ibarra’s strategy?
“Not to get flipped over,” said Iron Bar. “But I may need two helmets for this one.”
As a precaution, both fighters started on their knees, so that their match-up would be safer for the small Cole Hall arena. The grueling fight went on for the full three rounds, and at one point, Ibarra did get flipped by She.
Due to the intensity and tight scoring, the referee called for a fourth and deciding final round. Brute strength versus brute force, Yifan “The Wall” She eventually prevailed and was crowned the first-ever UCSF School of Pharmacy Sumo Smackdown Champion. For his efforts, he received a UCSF School of Pharmacy medium-sized sweatshirt, the better to showcase his muscles.
Oliver Ubeda is a third-year pharmacy student.