Domenic Perretta celebrates the first of his state titles, the 1600, on Saturday (Photo by Don Rich)
Domenic Perretta is one of the most appreciative and unassuming athletes you will find anywhere, always heaping praise on competitors and shaking their hands after a race has been run.
So he can be excused for not being completely happy with crafting yet another middle distance double at Shippensburg. The reason?
He REALLY wanted that number next to his name - 1:49.
The Beaver Falls senior claimed an unprecedented third set of victories in the Class AA 800- and 1,600-meter runs, demolishing a PIAA record in the process but falling agonizingly short of breaking a barrier over two laps.
"I should have dove or something," Perretta said half-jokingly after running a PR and US#9 clocking of 1 minute, 50:10 seconds but missing a time he has been chasing over the past two seasons.
Perretta's victory, one of the closest things to a given entering the PIAA meet, put the wraps on the first run of three consecutive 800-1,600 doubles in state meet history. Initially, the Penn State signee thought any fast times were not in the cards for him.
Perretta controls the pace in the 1600 (Photo by Don Rich)
"I was in fourth place (early and) I felt terrible," Perretta said of the opening stages of the 800. "I tried to keep pushing. I was like I'm just going for the win, I'm not even going for time anymore.
"I threw the time out the window and then I came through 600 in 1:21, and my coach was yelling at me. The last 100 meters I saw 1:38, and I thought 'Oh, I am getting 1:40 something. I was like 1:48 right by the line and then my legs just stopped moving. Then I saw 1:50.10."
Further analysis by the champion, whose previous best was a 1:50.58 second-place finish at this year's New Balance Nationals Indoor, showed that Saturday's final came together with a near-perfect pace for the Tiger runner. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Harbor Creek senior Dan Kuhn.
"I thanked him so much," Perretta said of Kuhn, who charged to the front in pursuit of his own dreams of running sub-1:50 and winning gold. "Without him I would have never broke the record. Without Kamil (Jihad), I would have never broke the record. He was pushing me, but Dan Kuhn made the race and I thank him so much for that.
Harbor Creek's Dan Kuhn (3) takes the 800 out hard through the first lap with Perretta (2) in second (Photo by Ethan Rissell)
"He took it out hard from the gun. He just kept taking it
hard and came through (in) 53. I was just sitting right behind him, and I was
like this is the perfect race. I wanted somebody to go out hard, but I didn't
know if anybody was going to. I thought I was going to have to make the race
myself, but that's a gutsy race for him. He's just a great runner. He made the
Nobody was able to keep pace with Perretta over the final lap as he charged to history, wiping away one of the oldest Class AA records on the books in Paul Vandegrift's 1:51.96 from 1987.
A couple hours earlier, Perretta tried to save as much energy as possible but still capture gold in the 1,600. The senior waited until the final lap to grab the lead and open a quick gap.
The gold wasn't guaranteed quite yet, however, as the Tiger had one final challenge on his hands in the final 200.
"Maybe 150 left, I looked behind me (to) make sure nobody was there, and Matt Murray (was) sitting right on me," Perretta said of the late surprise after pushing the pace significantly. "I looked right into his eyes, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' So I just had to keep pushing even though I didn't want to push the mile too much, just wanted to focus on the 8."
Perretta just missed the sub-1:50 mark in the 800 (Photo by Ethan Rissell)
Perretta's 4:17.62 was well off his season and lifetime bests but put him clear finally of the Dunmore senior and his PR 4:19.31 and provided a vital piece of his PIAA gold medal collection.
"I didn't think anything would happen like this, for me especially," Perretta said of the consecutive doubles. "Coming in here knowing that no one ever won the 800 and 1600 three years in a row. I think it's like a curse that no one ever did it before. Finally, I did it and I was happy with that."