Domenic Perretta verbally commits to Penn State!

It didn't take long for Domenic Perretta to grab the attention of fellow middle distance runners in western Pennsylvania and across the state.

Soon after, major college coaches also were well aware of the talented Beaver Falls runner.

Perretta, the two-time defending Class AA state champion in both the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, ended his college search almost as quickly as he finishes races, verbally committing to Penn State after taking a trio of official campus visits over recent weeks.

"The really big factor of committing to Penn State was the track team and how well their DMR (Distance Medley Relay) did," said Perretta, who is the fifth-fastest returnee nationally in the 800 and No. 11 in the mile. "Michigan also has a lot of talent and so does Pitt, but Penn State is just the right distance from home and I feel like it's the right fit for me to take academics and running to another level.

"It was definitely a plan from the beginning of the summer to commit early. I figured if a college coach called me early, then that means he is interested and wants me to be a part of their team. If they didn't call until late, then that means they had other recruits before me choose a different school and I would end up being a second option or something and I didn't want that."

The soft-spoken senior, who also is a two-time PIAA medalist in cross country, had a variety of Division I schools interested in including him among their Class of 2020 recruits.

"I'm not going to try to sound cocky, but a lot of schools from all over the place contacted me and I considered a lot of them for official visits but I could only pick five that I could actually go visit," Perretta said. "My mom told me to narrow it down to three schools you could see yourself going too, and that's when I chose the three."

In 2013, Perretta ran a then PR 2:00.57 to finish fourth as the lone freshman in the WPIAL (District 7) Class AA 800 final. An 11th in his heat at Shippensburg the next week might have been the fuel for the fire of a breakout season the following year.

He broke 2:00 early and often as a sophomore, claiming the WPIAL AA final in a stunning 1:52.72 after winning the 1,600 in 4:19.14. The first of his double golds in the PIAA meet put him squarely on the state and national radars as a 10th grader.

Last spring, he dropped his 800 PR even further (1:51.27) and also blasted one of the top miles (4:11.53) nationally en route to two more trips to the top step of the PIAA podium.

Focusing for the first time on cross country, Perretta is looking to defend his district Class A title and improve upon a seventh at Hershey.

"I think I'm a different runner because instead of hating cross country and telling myself to just do it because people around me wanted me to do it, I actually started enjoying it and having fun," Perretta said. "That helped me a lot mentally."

He continued to lay the groundwork for a more precious medal in a couple weeks by defeating Quaker Valley's Zach Skolnekovich, the defending WPIAL AA champion, in Thursday's Midwestern Athletic Conference meet.

"My goals for this season are to hopefully win WPIALs and states, but I know there is a lot of competition so it's not going to be easy at all," the senior said. "If I could achieve those two things this cross country season, then I will be happy with the way it went."