One Race Left

Alfredo Dominguez has only one more race to run this season — the state meet. And the junior cross country runner from Newton-Conover wants to finish well despite some pre-race jitters.

“I’m just nervous about it, but I’m actually ready for it,” Dominguez said. “This means a lot. I can’t go in there and mess around. I’m going to try my best, and hopefully everything will pay off.”

Dominguez is the first cross country runner in coach Eddy Clark’s 11 years at Newton-Conover to qualify for a state meet, and Clark said he is the first in school history.

“He is a great kid and a very hard worker,” he said. “He got better all season.”
The state meet starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at Beeson Park in Kernersville.

At the beginning of the season, there was potential for Dominguez to make it this far. It was clear how fast he could run, but it was unclear how far it could take him.

“That was unknown,” said Clark, who coached Andrew Tremain to a state wrestling title last season. “I knew he was good, but we never had anyone do it before. But qualifying was certainly a goal.”

It was achieved. The junior also has a personal goal for the season-ending race. He looked at the times from the 2009 state meet, and he wants to finish in the top five.

“This was certainly my dream, and so far everything has gone well,” he said.

Dominguez ran Oct. 6 for third place in the Catawba County Championship at Murray’s Mill, and he was fourth 12 days later in the Catawba Valley 2-A conference meet at Southside Park in Newton.

Those are strong finishes, but Dominguez had trouble finishing strong. That changed as the season moved forward.

He got better after working on how to end races. In practice, Dominguez ran a mile before going through a series of 20-meter dashes using a machine designed to train distance runners for faster sprints. The machine beeps at a slow pace, but the pace picks up with each repetitions. He did 180 reps on the machine, followed by 80 crunches, and ended with 30 push-ups. Dominguez said all the work increases his overall strength and prevents soreness at the end of a race.

“That helped him,” Clark said. “He just runs hard every day in practice, and he does everything as fast as he can do it.”

Dominguez finished eighth overall last weekend at Jackson Park in Hendersonville in the 2-A boys regional meet. Newton-Conover did not finish in the top four in the team competition, and it did not qualify for the state meet.

The NCHSAA, however, takes the top five runners from non-qualifying teams and allows them to run for the individual state title.

Dominguez qualified finishing second out of those five runners at the regional meet.