by Tommy Wells
Agatha Andrews always knew she could be among the best wrestlers in the country. On Feb. 8, she proved it to everyone else.
Andrews, who grew up in the western Alaska village of Akiak before earning three state titles as a member of the wrestling team at Mt. Edgecumbe High School, added her name to a growing list of Alaska athletes to earn All-American honors in the sport by powering her way to an impressive second-place finish at the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association’s National Championships. The tournament was held Feb. 7-9 in Marietta, Georgia.
“It was amazing,” said Andrews, who was making her first-ever trip to the finals at a national meet. “I think it is one of my biggest accomplishments so far.”
A sophomore at Jamestown University in North Dakota, the road to the 191-pound finals was anything but easy. To reach the championship match, she had to wrestle her way around one of her biggest rivals, Nkechinyere Nwankwo of Oklahoma City University. Nwankwo, who finished second in the NAIA national finals a year ago, was Andrews’ opponent in the semifinals.
Nwankwo had beaten Andrews in each of their four previous meetings.
“In order to get to the finals, I had to beat the No. 1 wrestler,” she said. “I tried not to think about having lost to her before. I knew I really wanted it (to win),”
Nwankwo grabbed the upper hand. She took an early lead and cruised into the second period.
Midway through the second, Andrews said she saw an opening in Nwankwo’s defense and decided to go for the opportunity. She managed to place the OCU sophomore in a half-nelson and, moments later, turned it into a pin.
“It was an amazing feeling to finally get by her,” she said.
The win over Nwankwo pushed Andrews into the 191-pound championship match to face off with Alexandra Castillo of Campbellsville (Ky) University. Castillo took the match by an 8-1 margin.
Andrew finished the tournament with a stellar 3-1 mark. Early in the tournament, she defeated Miriam De La Garza of Schreiner University, and Leilani Camargo-Naone of Midland University.
Her second-place finish enabled her to earn All-American honors for the second year in a row. Last season, she was fifth at the WCWA finals.
Andrews, who is the daughter of Ronald and Dorothy Andrews, will have another opportunity to claim a national title. She is scheduled to compete in the NAIA National Championships on March 13-14. That event will be held on her home mats at Jamestown University.