Dani Nugent ’25 Takes Home Third in Her Weight Class at 2023 Super 32 Challenge Tournament

Dani Nugent ’25 trains with Coach Matt Dehney (left) and Coach Mike Marshall (right) at the Doughboy Wrestling Club in Lowell, Mass.

Dani Nugent ’25 competed at the 2023 Super 32 Challenge Tournament in North Carolina, taking home third place in her weight class on October 22. Nugent competed as the eighth seed, beating the first and fourth seed in her weight class, which upset the first and fourth ranked female wrestlers in the nation.

Last year, Nugent tore her meniscus twice, not allowing her to compete in most of her winter season. Despite this, she was able to dominate on the mat this year, winning five of her six matches.

“I was the eighth seed and I ended up taking third place, taking out the one seed and the four, so overall it’s just a really good experience for me. I went five and one with five wins and one loss, to the eventual champion… Just getting out there was really exciting, and the tournament itself went really well for me,” said Nugent. 

Nugent attributed her successful performance to her conversations with her dad and sister in between matches.

Nugent said, “The environment was really good. I never had a time where I felt alone, always having someone to talk to after each match, talking about where I could do better. At the tournament, I actually had my dad as my coach and then my sister who goes to school at University of North Carolina [so she] was also down there to support me.”

According to Angie Ceballos Cardona ’25, Nugent serves as a strong support system for her team, especially for the new members. During the last wrestling season, she used her experience to act as a mentor for the younger girls on the team. 

Ceballos Cardona said, “Her helping the younger wrestlers out during practice was a big highlight of the season… Wrestling is a place where you can connect with so many people, and she was always very excited to share more about her experience, and that really came out. Even if she was far more experienced than the other wrestlers there, she never acted above anyone.”

Andover Wrestling Head Coach Kassie Bateman ’06 shared similar sentiments as Ceballos Cardona, highlighting Nugent’s leadership on the team. Bateman also emphasized Nugent’s impressive accomplishments last season, despite being injured for most of it.

“Last year Dani was coming off of an injury, and she was still at every practice and every competition supporting her teammates, giving them advice and helping them get better. Once she was cleared to wrestle, she was back on the mat with motivation, determined to be ready for the New England Championships [NEPSWA] and National Prep Championships. She was able to meet her goals and become repeat New England champion and National Prep champion, even after a shortened season,” wrote Bateman in an email to The Phillipian.

Bateman noted Nugent’s skill and her determination in matches which set her apart from other wrestlers.

“Dani is such a naturally talented athlete, and she works hard to craft her technique in wrestling. She is also a mentally tough wrestler. Even when she is losing a match, she is always looking for opportunities to score and to win. In these kinds of matches many wrestlers give up and just try to make losing ‘look good,’ but Dani always believes she can win a match. In a tournament, after a loss it’s easy to let that derail you, but she refocuses and moves on to the next target. This is especially impressive since Dani rarely loses,” wrote Bateman.

Nugent looks forward to the upcoming season and is preparing to start off strong by putting in the work now. She shared her current training regimen.

Nugent said, “I train at Doughboys, which is a wrestling club in Lowell. Throughout the year, I’m typically there four nights a week, just training with the boys. I have great coaches there, so it’s been really beneficial to put in work in the offseason. Right now, I’m also weightlifting to get stronger for my weight [class].”