By Charlene McKellar-Papasodaro
The Haldimand Press
CALEDONIA—Domenic Barresi, a local highschool athlete with success at provincial and federal track and field meets, is making huge steps in his track career having accepted a scholarship to Cornell University’s Ivy League Track and Field Team.
Barresi, who attends McKinnon Park Secondary School (MPSS) in Caledonia, has been training with the Hamilton Olympic Club since 2016. Like many young athletes, Barresi admits he didn’t necessarily choose the path in the beginning: “I always laugh about it. I never wanted to do it.”
He went on to explain, “When I was younger, I was never athletic. I never did any sports. And then I ran a couple track meets in Grade 7 and I did really, really well.”
His teachers at the time suggested that he start running and his parents agreed. Things began to change when he won his first provincial medals in Grade 8.
“That was kind of like the turning point in my head,” said Barresi. The following year, he won bronze in the 200m at the 2018 Ontario Federation of School Athletics Associations (OFSAA) Provincial Championship. He then won the Junior Boys gold medal in 200m, silver medal in 100m, and bronze medal in long jump in 2019 at the same event while in Grade 10. Barresi further succeeded that year in winning gold in the U18 200m and silver in the U18 100m at the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships.
In the 2020 Provincial Indoor Championships, Barresi won Gold in the U18 200m and bronze in the U18 60m. Barresi’s 2020 outdoor season saw success as well in U20 for both 100m and 200m distances.
“They’re really good memories,” said Barresi. “I think now I’ve matured a lot more from when I got them… (I) look at them as learning experiences. My first provincial title was teaching me how to perform under pressure. My national one was me learning how to be consistent. And my indoor one, I feel like that was more so learning how to prepare for a competition. I had really just got off a really bad bout with the flu before then. It was a little shaky in the weeks leading up to it.”
Juggling training with his schoolwork can be busy, as Barresi said he’s on “a six-day-a-week schedule and usually I’m double loaded on those days,” but he copes well, noting, “Since I’ve been doing this so long, I’ve gotten really well at time management.”
When talking about his decision to go to Cornell, Barresi said, “Ever since I was young, I wanted to go Division 1.”
Schools are ranked in divisions one to three under the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Division 1 schools are typically prestigious and have the biggest athletic budgets and most advanced facilities.
“It’s definitely a big accomplishment there,” said Barresi, adding, “I feel like I’m going to be able to develop really well at this school and hopefully pursue a pro career after that.”
He admitted, “I’m a little worried for the school load, but I choose Ivy because I want a good education out of this too…. The whole process with Cornell was really, really fast.”
Barresi added, “My mom’s pretty happy with it. My dad passed away in 2019, but I know he’d be the same; he’d be thrilled.”
For his future career, Barresi hopes to make it onto the 2021 World Junior team and eventually the 2022 World Championships and 2024 Olympics. However, right now what he enjoys most is improving himself as an athlete.
“I do like to see improvements on myself, that’s definitely a big part,” he said. “It’s nice to come out with wins, but at the same time those can’t be expected. So, I’d rather work on improving myself as an athlete…. That’s definitely one of my favourite parts through the whole thing.”
As Barresi graduates, staff at MPSS shared in a statement, “He will be missed by both staff and students. It is rare to witness such a committed young man – he has left his mark on his extended family at MPSS and will be fondly remembered.”
Barresi concluded, “I’d really like to thank my coaches from Hamilton Olympic, Matt Hodgson and Bernard Dubois. They’ve definitely developed me a crazy amount. I don’t think I’d be where I am right now without them. The support staff at McKinnon’s been amazing too. They really helped me with my whole recruiting process, and definitely my family…. My mom and dad were huge support systems, and my entire immediate family were with me through the whole journey.”