Beaver Falls' Perretta chasing unprecedented track triple-double
Dom Perretta gave up organized basketball in ninth grade and joined the Beaver Falls cross country and track teams. It looked like fun, and he figured he would be good at it.
Little did he — or anybody else — know.
Three years later, he is aiming for another kind of triple-double: WPIAL and PIAA championships in the 800 and 1,600 meters for a third straight year.
It never has been done, but track coach St. Clair Williams predicted Perretta will be the first, “with his determination, if he stays healthy.”
Williams called Perretta's ascendance to elite status in such a short time “unusual” but not a surprise.
“His determination, you saw it when he was a freshman,” Williams said. “He'd lose. He'd be upset. And he was never satisfied with his winning time. Midway through his freshman year, you could see he was gonna be special.”
Perretta, a senior who has won the past two WPIAL Class A cross country titles, does not see himself as special. In fact, he acknowledged he does not go into a race expecting to win.
“I don't ever expect to do something,” said Perretta, who also is on the Beaver Falls bowling team.
At the Warrior Classic on April 2 at Central Valley, Perretta won the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter events.
“I went in there a little bit confident but still nervous,” he said. “You don't want to think you're gonna win the race just because you're there. It's just a mindset.”
So is his preparation.
“I don't think pretty much anybody works harder than me,” Perretta said, adding that he hopes saying that doesn't make him sound cocky.
In March, Perretta ran a personal best 1 minute, 50.58 seconds in his best event, the 800. It was the second-fastest indoor high school clocking this year. Asked what makes Perretta so dominant, Williams said, “His drive to not want to lose and his personality, his knack of putting in the work and constantly wanting more.”
Perretta said it was a matter of “just working hard and listening to my coaches.”
Perretta, who committed to Penn State last fall, caught the running bug watching a cross country meet.
“Seeing what they were doing, I thought, ‘Why not?' ”
Or, as Williams tells it, “He said, ‘I could do that.' ”
Perretta is aware of what he calls the “target” on his back.
“That adds pressure,” he said. “Every meet. Even dual meets. You're always gonna get somebody's hundred percent, and you can't just go into every race expecting to win. They want to beat you.”
No one beat Perretta at the Warrior Classic, where he set a track record in the 400 with a time of 50.02 seconds even though it is not his regular race. The distance is a true sprint, different from the 800 and especially the 1,600.
The strategy is simple, though.
“You just sprint until you can't sprint,” he said.
Williams, in his fourth season at Beaver Falls, coached for 10 years at Western Beaver. He said he has seen one other runner who could handle sprint and distance like Perretta: Rochester's Derek Moye, who went on to star at wide receiver at Penn State and played briefly in the NFL.
Williams described Perretta as “one of the nicest, well-mannered PA kids I've ever been around.”
He also can run a little.
“He has the ingredients of being great, really,” Williams said.