Bears’ Szopo is ready for states

Public Spirit - - OPINION - By Tim Hindin

thindin@mont­gom

erynews.com Syd­ney Szopo will be mak­ing her third trip in as many years to PIAA Class AA Div­ing Cham­pi­onships this week­end. ,W wLOO EH WKH fiUVW WLPH she will place high­est on Up­per Moreland’s div­ing team; it is also KHU fiUVW WULS WR WKH VWDWH cham­pi­onship where she will not com­pete against her sis­ter Natalee.

As a fresh­man, Szopo finLVKHG VHFRnG Ln DLVtrict One Class AA as KHU VLVWHU finLVKHG fiUVW. Sim­i­lar story at the state cham­pi­onship she came in fourth as she watched her sis­ter place sec­ond. As a sopho­more the district score­board read the same it did the year prior DnG DV 6]RSR finLVKHG eighth in her sopho­more cam­paign Natalee ended her high school ca­reer wLWK D IRuUWK SODFH fin­ish.

“It was com­pe­ti­tion, ev­ery prac­tice, ev­ery meet it was me and her,” Szopo said, “Dual sea­son isn’t the most com­pet­i­tive, so she was my com­pe­ti­tion, even though she al­ways beat me, I also looked up [to her] and saw that I can beat [her] some­day.”

For Szopo not hav­ing her sis­ter has taken some JHWWLnJ uVHG Ey finGLnJ other means of mo­ti­va­tion as well as as­sum­ing more of a lead­er­ship role this sea­son. Szopo, how­ever, feels no ad­verse ef­fects of her sis­ter’s pre­ced­ing success.

“I like be­ing in her shadow, I am the lit­tle sis­ter, but it’s nice to be my own per­son and really shine,” she said.

“It’s been an ad­just­ment year for her EHFDuVH LW’V WKH fiUVW yHDU she’s had to com­pete with­out her sis­ter, which has been an ad­just­ment for her not hav­ing that se­cu­rity blan­ket around her,” Szopo’s coach Bob Is­rael said

Be­ing that this is Szopo’s third trip to the VWDWH finDOV, VKH finGV her­self hold­ing a men­tal edge over some of her fiUVW WLPH FRPSHWLWRUV.

“Be­ing at a big com­pe­ti­tion is very stress-

Szopo said. “I now know how to get over that stress.”

It does not take long af­ter mHHWLng 6]RSR WR find RuW how in­tense of a com­peti­tor she is. This is ev­i­dent from WhH way VhH HvaOuaWHV her­self and her com­pe­ti­tion. For Szopo, the higher the stakes, the more she locks on to tar­get.

“She’s a driven com­peti­tor, she wants to be good,” Is­rael said. “It’s a lot eas­ier whHn yRu havH aWhOHWHV whR SuVh yRu aV a FRaFh WR makH VuUH WhHy’UH dRLng whaW WhHy need to do as well as do­ing what I need to do to best pre­pare her.”

/HadLng uS WR VWaWHV FRmHV a ORW RI SROLVhLng uS Rn dLvHV and makLng VuUH hHU 11 dives for the meet are as close to per­fected as pos­si­ble. 6]RSR aOVR makHV VuUH VhH LV pre­pared for what the other divers will be do­ing as well.

“, VWudy [WhH FRmSHWL­tion],” she said. “I really undHUVWand and VHH whHUH the other divers are that I’m FRmSHWLng agaLnVW, nRW MuVW WhH [dLvHUV@ WhaW aUH UankHd above me, the whole en­tire [fiHOd@ bHFauVH yRu nHvHU know when some­one will VWHS LW uS Ln a bLg mHHW.”

Szopo en­ters this sea­son’s state cham­pi­onship with a mH­daO RU buVW aWWLWudH. ,VUaHO HxSHFWV a WRS IRuU finLVh.

“Last year I didn’t have that great of a meet at states so I know what it’s like to nRW bH aW WhH WRS, buW WhaW gives me an in­sight this year WhaW LW LV SUHWWy muFh mH­daO RU buVW,” 6]RSR VaLd.

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