MISSOULA — Some athletes spend their entire career training, hoping to get an athletic scholarship to compete at the college level.
A Missoula Loyola Sacred Heart graduate on his way to Montana Tech is challenging that norm after just one season running for his high school track team.
Dominic Maricelli played just about every sport during his time at Loyola: football, golf, tennis and basketball. Track, however, never peaked his interest until the final months of his senior year.
On the first day of the spring sports season, with his golf clubs loaded in his car, ready to round out his high school career with the boys golf team, Maricelli had a change of heart.
“I was going to do golf and I decided that Monday morning that maybe I should do track. All my friends were doing it and it would be my last sport,” said Maricelli.
Instead of hitting the links that day, he left his clubs in the car and showed up at the track instead.
A receiver and cornerback on the football team, his track coaches threw him in the sprints where he would compete in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and 400 relay all season.
Neither the coaches nor Maricelli thought too much about it. After all, the soon-to-be graduate just wanted to spend the remaining months of high school with his friends, maybe winning a race here and there.
“I was going into it thinking maybe I can do decent with this, and then I got to the first meet and I was like, ‘I suck at track, I’m not going to do anything special in this.' But then I started getting better at form, and the coaches helped a ton with that, and you don’t think about it because it’s just running to the naked eye, but there’s a lot of things that go into good running mechanics. As that progressed, I started thinking that I could do a little better each time," he said.
Maricelli’s “fun” senior sport became more serious with every passing of the baton.
He eventually helped his relay team to a personal-best time of 43.77 seconds and a first-place finish in the Class B 400 relay at the state track meet in Laurel.
To Maricelli’s surprise, his medal-winning performance got the attention of the track coach at Montana Tech where he’d already been accepted on an academic scholarship.
This week, Maricelli made it official, signing to the Montana Tech men’s track and field team -- the ultimate “relay” of fate.
“The only word I can use for that is divine because it just seems so crazy that I was sitting in class, wasn't really paying attention to what was going on, and I thought ,‘Man, I should just do track.’ I think it’s so crazy that it turned out to be something so special to me," Maricelli said.
Maricelli will study civil engineering and continue running sprints for the track team at Montana Tech next year.