Q&A Athlete Spotlight: Adaugo Nwachukwu

Q&A Athlete Spotlight: Adaugo Nwachukwu

An interview by Brogan Louden

Unlike many of the great wrestlers who shine in college and at the international level, Adaugo Nwachukwu, did not begin the sport until she was a sophomore in high school. However, this did not stop her from quickly making a name for herself and becoming one of the best female wrestlers in the nation - and the world.

Nwachukwu, who was born and raised in Nigeria, came to the United States in 2018, where she would eventually sign up for her schools wrestling team. While
attending Silver Creek High School in California, Adaugo would place fourth in the state tournament as a sophomore and go on to win a state title in only her second year of competition as a junior. She would be unable to get a chance at defending her title as a senior due to the cancellation of the season.

Nwachukwu’s success in high school lifted her to continue her career at the collegiate level, joining Iowa Wesleyan in only the programs second year of existence. Once there, similar to high school, Adaugo would continue her dominance on the mat. As a freshman, she would compile a record of 22-1 and win her first NAIA title in the 136-pound weight class. In addition to this being her fist individual title, it was also Iowa Wesleyan’s first All-American and
national champion.

After the collegiate season, Nwachukwu would put the international circuit
on notice, making the USA Wrestling U20 world team and claiming bronze in Bulgaria later that summer at 62 kg.

Following an impressive freshman season campaign, Adaugo would look to conquer even greater accomplishments as a sophomore. She would not disappoint. Nwachukwu would cap off a perfect undefeated (31-0) season, highlighted by her second national title at 136 pounds. What's more, Adaugo earned bonus point victories in 29 of those matches. Additionally, she was named the 2023 NAIA Outstanding Wrestler of the Year and a finalist for Women’s College Wrestler of the Year.

A few short weeks after winning her second national title, Iowa Wesleyan University, announced that they will be closing down in May at the conclusion of the spring semester. Although the future is uncertain, any school that is able to bring Nwachukwu aboard will be adding some real fire power to their lineup. In the meantime, Nwachukwu’s priorities are focused on the U.S. Open and World Team Trials in April. Here’s what Adaugo had to say about becoming a Chain Wrestling athlete and her career thus far.

Q: Why did you decide to team up with Chain Wrestling and become a signature athlete?

A: I decided to team up with Chain Wrestling because it was a good opportunity for me to expand my brand and make extra money.

Q: What influenced your involvement and entrance into the sport of wrestling?

A: My high school coach wanted wrestlers for the team, so he was recruiting outside the wrestling building one afternoon and I decided to sign up. Being a previous track and soccer athlete, I already knew what the life of an athlete looks like.

Q: After high school, what colleges did you consider and what ultimately determined your decision to go to Iowa Wesleyan?

A: After high school, I was looking at UNC, NCC, and Iowa Wesleyan. I applied to UNC because it had a great nursing program, but I didn’t get in. NCC didn’t have a nursing program at all and while Iowa Wesleyan had a nursing program, it was just their second year as a wrestling program; it was kind of a blind leap of faith. I decided to give the coaches a chance and I’m glad that I did because they have helped me so much in my career as a wrestler and a nursing student.

Q: Given your later start to the sport, what do you think has allowed you to excel and become such a dominant wrestler so quickly?

A: I think I have come this far with perseverance and hard work. While Covid hit in 2020, it was just my second year as a wrestler and if I had stopped wrestling during that tough year, I wouldn’t have come this far. I started wrestling at least four to five days a week with my high school coach. He set up a wrestling mat in his backyard and it was the best thing to look forward to. I think I also excelled in this sport because I started freestyle right after the folkstyle season of my sophomore year ended. I wrestled every Greco and freestyle tournament there was in my state.

Q: Fresh off an undefeated season, what has it meant for you to win your second NAIA Championship as only a sophomore? Additionally, how does it feel to become Iowa Wesleyan’s first ever All-American and National Champion?

A: It might have been luck when I won it my freshmen year, but winning it this year, again, made me feel like I deserved it, and I worked my way up to the national title. It gave me a feeling of accomplishment to think that I am the first ever national champion for Iowa Wesleyan.

Q: What aspects other than wrestling itself would you attribute your work ethic and dedication to reach new limits towards?

A: I think telling myself that I need to do good in school to be able to wrestle plays a huge role in helping me keep a good work ethic and dedication. Being a nursing major is already difficult so balancing it with practice, competitions, and so on.

Q: When your career began, did you ever imagine that you would be such a large force in helping to grow and empower women in the sport? Does your personal impact give you a greater incentive to achieve your goals and set new records?

A: When I started wrestling, I wasn’t even planning to wrestle in college but here we are. My personal impact does give me a greater incentive to achieve my goals and set new records because I feel like a role model, and don’t want to let those younger athletes down.

Q: Given your success thus far, what are some of your goals that you will look to accomplish moving forward?

A: Moving forward, I would like to make all age level world teams while working towards my nursing degree and becoming a four-time national champion in college.

Q: Besides wrestling, what are some other things that you are passionate about or enjoy doing? Do you think it is important to find an even balance between wrestling and other aspects of your life?

A: Besides wrestling, I like to make TikTok videos, hang out with friends/spend time with my loved ones, sleep, and watch Netflix. I think it’s important to find that balance between wrestling and other aspects of my life because I will always have some kind of coping mechanism when I don’t feel the best, and I can also find things to do without feeling like I have to meet a deadline or do it according to rules and regulations.

Q: When your wrestling career does come to an end, one day, what do you want people to remember you the most for? Also, what would you like to do once your competitions days are over?

A: I want people to remember me as the wrestler that conquered the world and became the best the world has ever seen. I want to be remembered as the wrestler that inspired millions of wrestlers and even athletes in general. I want my name to go down in history years from now.

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About the author: Brogan Louden

Brogan Louden, a 2022 graduate of Shippensburg University, is from the great state of Pennsylvania. Growing up his entire life surrounded by some of the best wrestling in the nation, he quickly discovered his strong passion and love for the
sport. Now, he is looking to pursue a career in wrestling media to help bring more
awareness and excitement to the sport.