Adelaide Aquilla competes in the women's shot put finals at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials on June 24, 2021 in Eugene, Ore.
Adelaide Aquilla is headed back to the scene of some of her greatest triumphs.
The former walk-on turned U.S. Olympic shot putter is now a senior at Ohio State, and this week she’ll wrap up her collegiate career by attempting to defend her NCAA title at the championship meet in Eugene, Oregon.
It’s the latest chapter in what’s been a remarkable journey for the 23-year-old, even if at times it still feels surreal.
“It’s definitely a crazy experience, even just going back thinking about it right now,” said Aquilla, who recently graduated with degrees in communications and hospitality management. “It still feels so surreal. But I would honestly just say that it was a testament to my hard work, trusting the process and ultimately realizing what I’m capable of.”
It is well documented that Aquilla was not considered a major prospect out of Magnificat High School in Rocky River, Ohio. And although she had offers from smaller schools, the allure of suiting up for Ohio State proved to be too great to pass up.
Even if it came without a scholarship.
“I had a couple of other offers from some smaller D1 schools, but ultimately I saw better potential at Ohio State to compete against the best in the country at the time,” Aquilla said. “As a kid in Ohio, it’s Ohio State football, Ohio State sports, so to prove to my family and everyone I knew that I go to Ohio State and I’m on the track team, that was just an awesome feeling and an awesome experience.”
Aquilla took advantage of the resources Ohio State offered to develop into a conference champion and then, this past June in Eugene, an NCAA outdoor champion. She then made the leap to international competition by finishing third at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials a few weeks later, also in Eugene, to reach her first Olympic Games.
“I definitely thought that throughout the season I had enough high-level training with high competition and high stakes that I could make the (Olympic) team, so it was just a matter of putting it all together at that time,” she said.