Derailed from his dream of vaulting in the 2012 UIL state track and field meet when he broke his left fibula on the way down from a vault a year ago in Lubbock, Zorsky has healed and soared in 2013.
“I was definitely hoping to go to state as a junior, but that didn’t go so well,” Zorsky said, offering up a grin. “I definitely missed the sport while I was out. I was ready to come back and do what I wasn’t able to do as a junior.”
What Zorsky has done leading up to the Class 5A state meet in Austin has impressive written all over his senior year.
He signed a letter of intent with the University of New Orleans, where the head coach is U.S. Olympic pole vault coach Ty Sevin.
Zorsky set the Tascosa pole vault record of 16-6¾ during the Texas Relays in April, held at the same University of Texas track he will be on Saturday.
He broke the 14-year-old Amarillo Relays record with a vault of 16-0 in March.
Zorsky’s top pressure performance arrived April 26 in Lubbock on a windy day when he qualified for his first state appearance.
Zorsky found himself one of five vaulters still competing after clearing 15-6 at the Region I-5A meet. He cleared 16-0 on his second attempt, claiming the silver medal behind El Paso Franklin’s Paul Benevides at 16-3.
Zorsky is seeded second of the nine state competitors — Benevides is first — and said lessons learned in the past year will ride along with him to state.
■ On his broken leg: “It was at the end of summer before I got back on a pole. I wasn’t nervous at all. Being away from it made me want to vault even more. I was mostly excited to get back on the pole. But my leg did bother from the muscle damage. I tried to work through it. It hurt a lot. Sort of like shin splints, only in the back of your leg. I’m fully recovered now. I don’t have any pain.”
■ On the pressure at regionals: “My nerves were getting the best of me. I’d miss on first attempt and then make the second. I learned I need to stay calm and focus on my technique and not focus on my competitors and how they are doing.”
Zorsky fell in love with pole vaulting in junior high and has become a student of the sport.
“I watch a lot of pros on the Internet and take in as much as I can,” Zorsky said. “I take things from their techniques and apply them to what I’m trying to do. And then every practice I watch slow-motion of video of myself and try to get things perfect.”
Tascosa’s pole vault coaches Ronnie Malone and Jason Riddlespurger, who have worked with Zorsky since middle school, have come to admire the National Honor Society student for many reasons.
“For a lot of people, breaking their leg would freak them out,” Riddlespurger said. “But Noah is so focused. He is one of those kids that if he has something in his mind he wants to get done, he is going to work to get it done. He’s that special of a kid.”
Malone and Riddlespurger have their iPad at every practice and meet taking video of Zorsky. Zorsky is famous for quickly soaking in what the two devoted coaches show and tell him.
“Noah is listener, not a talker,” Riddlespurger said. “That’s the best kind of kid you can coach. You can just tell the intelligence flows out of him. And the thing about Noah is he is spot on with technique. I compare to it golf. Every little tiny movement is important in a golf swing. It’s the same thing in the pole vault. If his technique is a hair off as high as he goes, it’s trouble. That’s why he’s so amazing. The colleges coaches who see him comment on how he knows what he is doing.”
What Zorsky would love to do is medal at the state meet.
His strategy may include trying out a 16-foot pole in competition for the first time to help reach his goal of clearing 17-0.
That 17-0 number is special to all Texas Panhandle pole vaulters as it represents the all-time record set by Grant Henly of Dalhart in 2001.
“The UT stadium is awesome,” Zorsky said from his Texas Relays experience. “The pits are right next to the stands, and the fans can watch. It’s a really cool vibe. I’ve waited a long time for this.”