Danielle Opatovsky’s introduction to the race walk event came as a punishment. As a freshman at Shoreham-Wading River on the track team, she joked about how the race walk was a silly event.
So Shoreham coach Paul Koretzki inserted her into the walk.
Two years later Opatovsky was an all-American. And during the winter season of her senior year in 2011, she compiled her best season of her career, winning both a state and national title.
Before her victory at the state championship, Opatovsky ran the fastest time in the nation at the St. Anthony’s Invitational. She ran a nearly equal time at the state championship to win the title in 6 minutes 51.59 seconds. She won the race by nearly 10 seconds ahead of the next competitor.
Next for Opatovksy after winning states was the New Balance Indoor Nationals at the Armory in New York. As the top seed going into the event, Opatovsky began to feel the pressure during the week leading up to the race. “I was freaking out every day,” she said after the race. “I was stressing about it. I just wanted to finish it off right.”
She did just that, winning the 1-mile race in 7 minutes, 14.2 seconds (previous races were 1,500 meters). She became only the third Shoreham girl to ever win an event at a national meet.
Her time was the fastest for a senior in school history.