PLAINVILLE – “Chucta earns all-state diving honors.” Sounds like a familiar headline.
But two years later, it’s Woodland junior Dayna Chucta, not her older sister Heather, placing third at the Class S diving meet last Friday in Plainville to seal an all-state performance of her own.
Chucta racked up 326.60 points, more than 30 points better than Sacred Heart Academy’s Kaitlyn Beaver, to clinch a third-place finish at the Class S competition. Plainville’s Alyssa Mills won the class championship with 409.25 points, while East Catholic’s Sam Russo finished second with 359.50 points.
The top-three performance was plenty to satisfy Chucta, who didn’t have any doubts she could finish as high as she did.
“I dove consistently the whole meet and kept my degree of difficulty strong at the end,” Chucta said.
The top junior in the competition earned the opportunity to compete at Friday’s State Open in Hamden, where Chucta will be seeded 14th. She thinks she can up her score and crack the top 10.
“I am hoping for a top-10 finish but there is a lot of tough competition in the state,” Chucta said.
Unfortunately for Chucta, she’ll have to skip Woodland’s homecoming dance to dive at the Open—but she’s excited about the opportunity anyway.
“It’s a bummer I have to miss homecoming for it,” Chucta joked.
The State Open will be the conclusion of a fantastic season for the junior, who placed second at the Naugatuck Valley League championship earlier this month. Chucta was the top-seeded diver heading into the competition but fell short of Holy Cross’ Paige Wilde, who scored 342.90 points, less than 10 points better than Chucta’s score of 334.00.
“I was a little disappointed,” Chucta admitted. “I felt I could have done better, but Paige is such a strong diver and hands-down my biggest competition. But the loss only motivated me. I spent the next week working as hard as ever and it really paid off when it came to states.”
Hard work has always paid dividends for Chucta, who was expected to be one of the league’s top divers this year and didn’t disappoint.
“The beginning of my season was a little slow when I suffered my first loss to Paige Wilde,” Chucta said. “But from then on I gained momentum and really started training harder to get where I needed to be.”
The place where Chucta is now must feel good, as the junior is emerging from the shadow of her older sister, who holds both diving records at Woodland, was a two-time NVL champion, and earned all-state honors her senior year in 2008. Heather is also in her sophomore season diving at the University of Delaware.
Dayna says the sisterly competition with Heather has always been important.
“Heather has always been my biggest motivation,” Dayna said. “We are very competitive. Whenever she gets a new dive, she will tell me and I immediately start working on that dive to be at the same level as her.”
The success of the Chuctas has earned them a place in Woodland athletic history where only a select few have yet achieved—siblings enshrined on the black and gold banners in the gym.
“We have always dreamed about having both of our names on the all-state banner and it’s amazing to finally see that happen,” Dayna said.
Sure, that sounds great for now. But Dayna has the opportunity next season to break Heather’s records, win an NVL title of her own, and earn all-state honors again. Don’t think she hasn’t thought about it, either.
“I called her up first when I got one point away from her record,” Dayna said. “She knows I am coming for her. I have always been in her shadow and now I am finally stepping out into the spotlight.”