Rising Star: Tionna Napue overcomes family tragedy to thrive in two sports

Russell two-sport athlete Tionna Napue
Russell two-sport athlete Tionna Napue(KWCH)
Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 7:56 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Tionna Napue is a two-sport athlete during the winter season for Russell High School. She’s a key player on the Broncos’ basketball team and a force on the wrestling team with a 32-2 record.

Napue was busy last week, helping Russell to two wins in basketball and placing second in a wrestling tournament on Saturday. But between those highs, she and her family faced a life-changing challenge.

“Wednesday, my house caught fire and then Saturday I had a wrestling meet and I had to go against the girl that was ranked No. 1 in (the) state,” Napue said.

Napue and her family are still dealing with the fallout from last week’s house fire. Despite these difficulties, she’s performing at a high level in two sports.

“Yeah, we lost everything,” Napue said. “My room was really the only room that didn’t really burn or anything, but everything in there, smoke damaged. Everything else is gone.”

Wrestling teammate Jaden Ney said Napue’s resilience has been inspiring.

“Nothing can stop her,” Ney said. “The house fire, yeah, that was horrible, but it’s not going to stop her from being great at wrestling and basketball.”

The community is backing Russell’s rising two-sport star.

“A lot of people have donated clothes and money and stuff,” Napue said. “They’ve always been here for me. They’re very helpful.”

The freshman is well on her way to setting records on the mat.

“By the end of the season she’s going to be in the girls’ (record book) for all the individual categories,” Russell wrestling coach Mark Baldwin said. “She’s going to be in the top 20 in several of those. She’s already beat some this season.”

Baldwin isn’t the only one noticing Napue’s fortitude.

“She’s just kept pushing through it,” assistant wrestling coach Luke Keller said. “She’s kind of the ultimate competitor. She wanted to see how she matched up with that girl from Rossville that’s ranked first in the state. I was proud of her for just for going out there.”

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