Adaobi Tabugbo hurdles in the Smith Fieldhouse. (BYU Photo)

BYU hurdler strives to compete despite setbacks

BYU hurdler Adaobi Tabugbo grew up with five brothers and felt like she always had to be competitive and go the extra mile to be seen. So it was no shocker when she took first place in the 60-meter hurdles and second in the 60-meter dash at the BYU Invite in December while recovering from a hamstring injury.

“I have grown up very competitive in absolutely everything,” Tabugbo said. “Even if I may not be the best at something I feel like I have to at least be a threat.”

The sophomore discovered her hamstring injury three weeks before the December meet, the first of the season, and the news was met with frustration and fear as her hopes of participating at the meet seemed splintered. The injury happened right before Thanksgiving break, so Tabugbo made the decision to take a break from team practice to avoid making it worse.

“The plan was to see how I feel after the break and if I feel decent, I am going to run but it was a little more serious than I had initially thought,” Tabugbo said, “After the break, (my hamstring) didn’t heal as much as I really hoped for it to heal.”

Uncertainties about competing began to spiral and Tabugbo was almost arriving at the conclusion that she wouldn’t compete until Winter Semester. During the week leading up to the meet, however, while doing some low-impact workouts, the hurdler said she “started to feel really powerful,” and decided to compete at the December invitational.

“I knew she was healthy enough to compete and I just said, ‘You’re going to run,'” track and field assistant coach Stephani Perkins said on Tabugbo’s ability to run the 60-meter dash.

Adaobi Tabugbo in the Smith Fieldhouse following the December BYU Indoor Invite. (Adaobi Tabugbo)

A few days later, a confident Tabugbo reached out to Perkins saying she could also compete in the 60-meter hurdles. Tabugbo said she was feeling great after a hurdle workout and decided she was willing to compete.

“One thing I would say about Adaobi is that she is extremely determined in order to just be competitive. I knew that hamstring injury she had wasn’t going to be a major setback for her by any means,” assistant strength and conditioning coach Zach Stetler said.

After the December invite, Tabugbo was ranked No. 22 in the 60-meter hurdles nationwide ranking and No. 35 in the 60-meter dash.

“I expect Adaobi to be a contender for the national championship, both indoor and outdoor in the next couple of years, and I just want her to keep working her way up higher on the top-10 board,” Perkins said.

Tabugbo feels motivated by the likes of Sydney McLaughlin and other women’s athletes in college track and field who receive a lot of exposure. She said at one point those women were where she is now, and if they can make it big, so can she if she tries.

“She wants to be the best she can be and she shows that in her training sessions (and) weightlifting sessions. It is just something that I see consistently from her,” Stetler said, commenting on the hurdler’s athleticism.

The Maryland native has big goals for her college track and field career including becoming a national contender in both hurdles and dashes.

Tabugbo took first at the MPSF Indoor Championships on Feb. 19 in the 60-meter dash and hurdles and is back in Provo this week competing at the BYU Invitational II Feb. 25-26 in the Smith Fieldhouse.

The NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships are Mar. 11-12 in Birmingham, Alabama.

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