Big Reds’ Ian Domenick just felt like running

Ian Domenick without a doubt stands as one of the most talented cross country and long-distance track performers to ever come out of Parkersburg High School.

The Big Reds senior possesses an edge in competition you can’t help but admire. PHS head track coach Rod O’Donnell called him “one of those guys who comes along and you are just fortunate enough to have him and one of those kids you get excited about.

“You can talk about potential all you want to, but you want to see them (the kids) come into the program and get better every year and that is what he (Domenick) has done,” added O’Donnell.

The senior is everything you want in a leader. He is smart, encouraging and willing to push his fellow teammates every day in practice making them better too.

Funny thing is this attitude toward running wasn’t always his mindset. “I didn’t want to do it (run) unless I was being chased,” said Domenick with a chuckle, who echoed the sentiment of millions (possibly billions) of other people on the planet.

School pride was the catalyst for the change in attitude in his eighth-grade year. Jackson was closing in on the all-sports trophy, which goes to the top middle-school athletic program in Wood County each year.

Everything came down to the Generals claiming at least four track events at the annual county meet to the school clinching the award. Domenick wanted to help out anyway possible. He ended up with wins in the mile and 2-mile and Jackson with the trophy.

The rush of being by himself without teammates to carry him was intoxicating to the youngster who largely particiapted in team sports until his trying out for track.

His reputation proceeded him at PHS. Nick Cheuvront, Scott Barker and Evan Wooten all asked him to come out for the cross-country team his freshman year.

Domenick declined the invitation, but still came out for track, where Cheuvront took the freshman under his wing.

It was a bit of a rude awakening for the young man who had found success so easily as a lof of people were better than him, but he stuck to the sport with a source of inspriation close by him.

A lot of student-athletes cite professionals as their role models, but Domenick is different again. He looked at the people around his age his freshman year. Cheuvront was the runner Domenick modeled himself after. He watched everything Cheuvront did. “He was an icon to me,” said Domenick, who has a sheet in his locker with all of Cheuvront’s senior times written down on it.

“It has kind of been my thing my senior year,” said Domenick. “I am kind of chasing him and after passing him in most cross country times, I am in good shape for track to knock out some of the times he set.”

Cross country came back into play his sophomore year and the Big Red constantly got better season after season. In fact, his favorite athletic memory of his senior year is a sixth-place finish at the state cross country meet, which got him one of the 10 all-state spots.

The success was especially sweet after a less-than-satisfactory finish in his mind at the state meet the previous year. “I kind of choked and didn’t have the race I wanted to,” said Domenick, who finished 20th after being projected at 10th. “I remember sitting at the top of the bleachers bawling my eyes out watching the award ceremony and those guys up on the podium. It was a moment where everything switched for me. I had to be better and work harder.”

There are pictures floating around the internet of his final 50m at this season’s meet, where he has a big smile on his face because of his accomplishment.

“I think it was the instant success I had with how it came easy to me and it just felt right at the time,” said Domenick on why he stuck with the sport. “A lot of older people I talked to through the local 5Ks gave me a lot of advice on it too. You know the more and more I started doing it and competitng, the more I enjoyed it too. I love to compete; it is one of my favorite things to do as an athlete and the more I fell in love with it. Ever since that day when I decided it was right for me in middle school, it has continuously gotten better and I am super excited for next year.”

Yes, there will be a collegiate chapter written for him, but the decision process is ongoing at this moment as to what academic institution he will call home during his 2018-19 season.

In the meantime, he plans to end his year on a high note in his last track campaign. Domenick has a few more of Cheuvront’s records he plans to break before he walks across the stage at graduation.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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