This is what she’s been waiting for.
Opalka has been a state contender for diving all four years of her high school career. Freshman and sophomore year were just the start for her, and her junior season was put on hold because of a tragic knee injury she endured.
“Yeah, I was disappointed for sure. But I knew that I could bounce back and turn the injury into something that could push me even harder,” Opalka stated. This year was her year to take state.
At all dual meets this season, she was met with tough competition and made the most out of every meet, practicing new dives and perfecting her old ones. Undefeated, she dove into the postseason already having snatched the school record, a WIAA athlete of the week designation, and an athletic commitment to dive at the University of Denver. When postseason came along, she swept metros and then went on to win districts. She was unstoppable. Her sheer determination and drive was evident in everything she did.
“The blinders come on when I am competing in these big meets. Nothing else matters in those moments. I get into a zone. I just have to take it dive by dive, one at a time, constantly reminding myself that I have been practicing so hard for this and my body knows what to do,” said Opalka.
She has a grueling training schedule including frequent morning practice and practice everyday after school. “Without the help of my personal motivator, Squanto Mathisen, none of this would be possible,” she said.
After districts, she moved onto state. State is a competition of the best divers all across Washington, vying for the number one designation. At this final point, Lakeside’s Amber Chong was Zora’s biggest known competition. The two had been neck and neck competing throughout their high school years. Zora dove well the first day, earning her way into finals as the top seed.
It was close during finals; Chong really brought her all, but Opalka pulled through. “I save my money-makers for the end,” Opalka said about her best dives. After a long day, it was announced that she had won state, with Chong a close second. “It was the best feeling in the world. I couldn’t imagine a better way to end my career here at BHS,” said the state champ.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Review.