VALDESE — After three successful years at Freedom in cross country and track, Amber Opp transferred to Draughn for her senior year.
And her success continued, leading the Lady Wildcats track and field team to a South Mountain 2A/3A Conference championship in earning the female athlete of the year honor at Draughn.
“She had that drive and knew what it took to be successful,” said Draughn track coach Jonathan Dameron. “Her work ethic stood above the rest.”
Opp’s most notable accomplishments were both winning the cross country girls individual county championship and advancing to the state meet 5k in the sport all four years.
“I wouldn’t be the runner I am today without my coaches: Freedom’s Adam Mazzolini and Laura McGlamery and Draughn’s Dameron, Patricia Drake and Phillip Harkey,” said Opp.
“Not only did Coach Mazzolini help me to become a better runner, he inspired me to become a leader. After workouts, he’d always give us Lifesaver mints if we did well. It’s the little things that made our team whole.”
For her senior year at Draughn, Opp ran a 21:39.24 at the County 5k before placing fourth at the 2A West Regional (19:58.64), a 14-place advancement from her junior year finish in the 3A regional.
She also won the SMAC championship meet (21:10.50) while recording her season-best time (19:39.96) at the 2A state meet, placing eighth to earn all-state honors.
Opp also earned SMAC girls track event MVP honors by winning the 800, 1600, and 3200 meter championship events.
Opp advanced on to the 2A regional and state meets in the 1600, placing fourth (5:30.33) and fifth (5:27.97) respectively.
At the 1A/2A state indoor championship meet, Opp placed 14th in the 3200.
“When I first walked into Draughn at the beginning of my senior year, I didn’t know what to expect,” Opp said. “I was nervous and sad to be leaving my Freedom family, but I now have many new friendships, furthered leadership skills, a (NCAA) Division I athletic scholarship and above all, another new family.”
She said her favorite memory from athletics was just time spent with teammates.
“They have influenced me in a big way and have a huge part in my successes from running up High Peak Mountain to eating breakfast together after morning workouts. We are truly Wildcat Family, Wildcat Strong.”
Opp will continue running at The Citadel on the cross country team, majoring in Sports Management and Administration. Opp also plans to join the Air Force after graduating from The Citadel.
Jason Baker can be reached at email@example.com.