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All-time student athlete Nwogwugwu heads to Penn

All-time+student+athlete%2C+Uchechi+Nwogwugwu%2C+ends+her+career+at+North+Penn+High+School.
All-time student athlete, Uchechi Nwogwugwu, ends her career at North Penn High School.

All-time student athlete, Uchechi Nwogwugwu, ends her career at North Penn High School.

Submitted Photo

Submitted Photo

All-time student athlete, Uchechi Nwogwugwu, ends her career at North Penn High School.

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Uchechi Nwogwugwu, known to those closest to her as “Uche,” has made quite a name for herself not only within the confines of the North Penn community, but statewide and nationally. Nwogwugwu is a two time outdoor state track champion at 400 meters and she has won two indoor state championships over the same distance. She is the brightest star on a team full of stars and is the primary reason that North Penn’s girls track team are state champs for the first time in many years.

As talented as Nwogwugwu is on the track, her talents extend beyond the athletic field. She is an active contributor to the student body. Whether on or off the track, she pushes herself to excellence. Her unique name suggests the favor of the Creator, and her influence demonstrates it.

Nwogwugwu has been a principal contributor to the girls track team since she first started competing. She has proven herself to be the prototypical all-around student athlete.  Although Nwogwugwu is well known for being state champion in the open 400 meters, she is almost as accomplished in the high jump and triple jump.  Her introduction to the sport began in the seventh grade when she decided to join the Penndale Middle School track team.

“I was a really lazy kid I didn’t like going outside. I didn’t start sports until literally middle school. The first sport I actually played was field hockey,” shared Nwogwugwu. “My sister did track when she was in seventh grade, she’s three years older than me, so I just decided to do it because I did field hockey in the fall and I didn’t do a sport in the winter so I was like, ‘alright I guess I’ll do track.’”

She couldn’t have known it then that in just a few years she would wear consecutive 400 meter state crowns. Since her junior year, Nwogwugwu has won the 400 meter dash both indoors and outdoors. In addition to this, she had outstanding performances in North Penn’s 4×400 and 4x800m relays.

In her senior year she was a co-captain of the State Championship team. She has the most school and class records at North Penn High School”

— Coach Richard Swanker

“Every year Uche has contributed to the NP track team.  She has run on relays as a freshman through to her senior year. She owns class records as a freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior.  She has been apart of school records all 4 years and as she graduates she has the 400m record, tied the high jump record, was a part of the 4X800m school record and anchored the 4X400 to a school record. In her senior year she was a co-captain of the State Championship team. She has the most school and class records at North Penn High School,” shared girls track head coach Richard Swanker.

For the 2017 indoor track season, Nwogwugwu won the state title in the 400 meter dash with a time of 55.13. For the outdoor track season, Nwogwugwu won the 400 meter dash with a personal best of 53.80 seconds. She also holds the school record for the 400 meters in both indoor and outdoor track seasons at 55.01 and 53.80, the school triple jump record for indoor track at 37’.75, the 4×200 meter relay at 1:41.46, the 4×400 meter relay at 3:56.80 indoors and 3:46.13 outdoors which won at states, and the 4×800 meter relay at 9:03.35 indoors and 8:55.88 outdoors which won at states.

“She is not afraid to do things and she is the best competitor I have ever coached; she refuses to lose!” shared Swanker.

For her highly recognized efforts, Nwogwugwu has a lot to consider, and going to the Olympic Trials in 2020 may be one of them.  She has dual citizenship in the United States and Nigeria and she could potentially run for either if she were to make either team.

Being the first generation of her family to be born and raised in America, Nwogwugwu and her siblings have the added weighty expectations on their shoulders to perform well in and outside of the classroom. They also have to balance their American culture with their Nigerian. This pressure aids in Nwogwugwu’s great success. Though she is expected to always do her best, she admits that her parents have always been a positive and understanding support system for her and her siblings Nnenna, Obi, and Dean. As both of her parents attended college in the United States, they understand the great opportunities that a good education offers and what measures need to be taken to become successful.

“Nigerian parents will always just tell you ‘medicine or law’ because that makes the most money and you’re the most successful so that’s always kind of been a thought. But when it really came down to [what I was] passionate about and when I got old enough to think about my future I was like ‘that makes sense; that’s the right way to go’,” shared Nwogwugwu.

Academics and athletics are only a portion of Nwogwugwu’s priorities. Many other cultural and social stressors factor into her lifestyle.

“I think the main stressor is the battle between progressing and being American and keeping [Nigerian] tradition alive,” shared Nwogwugwu.

As most of her relatives live in Nigeria, Nwogwugwu has pressure both within the home and overseas. This can be challenging as she doesn’t speak Igbo, one of the major languages spoken in Nigeria, fluently.

“The main thing that stresses us out is that we’re not fluent in our language, none of us are. My sister knows most of it. She can understand almost anything,” said Nwogwugwu.

Her track career is just a part of Nwogwugwu’s success as her physical performance is surpassed only by her superior academic performance. This fall, Nwogwugwu will be attending the University of Pennsylvania where she will continue her academic and athletic career.

At Penn I actually felt like [I was] at home. The people were really just my type of people.”

— Uchechi Nwogwugwu

“At Penn I actually felt like [I was] at home. The people were really just my type of people.  I think more so than the people at Duke, and I think I got to know them really well in the 24 hours that I was there. When I was thinking about it I was like ‘if [you] go and run you’re going to be spending so much time with the team and you want to be comfortable with them.’ Even though you can learn to be comfortable with anyone, I feel that the people at Penn were just cool. I was actually having a good time and laughing,” shared Nwogwugwu.

Though unsure now, she knows she wants to incorporate her love for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) with her love for psychology. As of now, she plans to study the Biological Basis of Behavior.

“I want to go into medicine because I think that’s a very secure field and I don’t really like writing. I was like alright I like science, I like math, so I’ll go into medicine. It was the most interesting major,” shared Nwogwugwu.

“I was going to major in chemistry but…I sat in on a chemistry class and I was like I’m going to have to take it but I don’t think I can major in it. That’s pretty much why; I want to be a doctor,” shared Nwogwugwu.

At the Penn, Nwogwugwu will be academically and physically challenged. Here she will be encouraged to expand her talents and achieve her future goals.

“Goal number one, don’t get hurt. Goal number two, I think is to find a good balance because my time management is okay now but it’s going to need to be a lot better I think because it’s going to be academically more challenging. As long as I can find a balance that’s my only goal. Just go in there and stay focused.”

Submitted Photo
Nwogwugwu and her family celebrating as she graduates from North Penn High School.

Though she is excited for her next journey, she will be leaving behind the school district that she has been able to flourish in. At North Penn, Nwogwugwu’s legacy will no doubt live on. In her four years at the high school she has found time in her incredible schedule to become a member of the North Penn High School Key Club, Spanish and Latino Student Association, French Club and National Honor Society.

The many different opportunities, classes, clubs, and levels at North Penn have prepared Nwogwugwu for her academic and social career at Penn.

“I think North Penn is a really good school academically. I hear a lot of things [about other schools] from students who [don’t go to North Penn], and I think ours is a little harder. I think because we’re use to that elevated rigor we’re going to be more prepared,” shared Nwogwugwu.

Nwogwugwu plans to incorporate her skills learned here at North Penn and pack them in her bags and take them with her to the Penn. It’s easy to believe that we haven’t heard the last from this supernova who is one of the greatest all-around student athletes North Penn has ever known.

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1 Comment

One Response to “All-time student athlete Nwogwugwu heads to Penn”

  1. Amy Hrinyak on June 12th, 2017 2:49 pm

    Congratulations, Uche! I am so proud of you. I know that you are going to do great things!
    -Mrs. Hrinyak

    [Reply]

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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA
All-time student athlete Nwogwugwu heads to Penn