* Damon Frabotta, shown at the 2022 Amherst Steele Comet Relays, plied his trade at Saint Ignatius prior to arriving on the campus of Boston College.
Photo Credit: Christian Lisle/MileSplit
By Mark Dwyer - MileSplit
On Sunday, in Eugene, Oregon, Damon Frabotta clinched a berth to the 2023 Pan American U20 Championships following his runner-up finish in the 400mH finals at the USA Track and Field Under 20 Championships.
Frabotta, a rising sophomore for the Boston College Eagles program and a former standout hurdler for Cleveland-Saint Ignatius High School, clocked 51.89 at historic Hayward Field to secure what will represent his inaugural international racing experience.
He'll be joined by 400mH champion Gage Gose, who claimed gold with his 51.67 mark, and the rest of the American team as they travel to host city Mayaguez for the scheduled August 4-6 competition.
How he got here: Building the foundation at Saint Ignatius
Frabotta credits the high level coaching he was exposed to and the competitive, dedicated training environment he shared with teammates at Saint Ignatius as contributing forces for the success he's enjoyed in the early stages of his college career and subsequently his qualifying effort achieved at USATF U20s.
"Coach Kyle and Coach Wolf played instrumental roles in preparing me for both the collegiate and national level by the workouts I was given, the structure of my practices and also the guidance I was provided throughout the entirety of the season," Frabotta said.
The insightful instruction, attention to detail, goal oriented strategy and rigorous training regimen supplied by the Wildcat coaching staff helped Frabotta to develop a bond, particularly with the fellow members of his 4x400m squad that he still carries with him to this day.
"Many of my high school teammates, especially my 4x400m group of Max Muresan, Ben Showman and Samurai Chung were crucial for my success because of the work ethic they displayed and their willingness to push each other during every single practice," Frabotta said.
Freshman year for the Eagles: Adversity enabled success
Frabotta's debut year on the collegiate scene didn't come without its challenges, as a nagging hamstring injury first sustained in early winter caused him to miss a significant portion of the indoor season and led to some necessary training and scheduling adjustments for the outdoor campaign.
With adversity comes opportunities, however, and Frabotta made sure to capitalize on the hand he was dealt.
"My injury led me to partake in a wide range of events that I had never done before including the 100 and 200, which I really ended up enjoying."
"Plus, these events allowed me to focus specifically on getting back to full speed running without having to worry about clearing any hurdles," Frabotta said.
Once he was finally back to full health in the spring, another adjustment Frabotta had to focus on was the transition from the 300mH event contested during OHSAA competition at Saint Ignatius to the standard 400mH distance offered within the NCAA circuit.
"The 400mH is definitely a very different race than the 300mH because although speed is a necessity for success, it also takes a different level of endurance that the 300mH does not require," Frabotta said.
Not that he would have scripted his first year in Boston to be injury plagued, but undeniable gains were acquired because of that fate and they're ones that'll continue to serve him well.
"Due to the injury I experienced a lot of the focus I put into training during the year was on endurance and getting back to running rather than specific hurdle technique."
"After I finished up my collegiate season I was able to then focus on the more technical aspects such as switching legs and step counts, which allowed me to be better prepared for the U20 Championships," Frabotta said.
Game time at the USA Track and Field Under 20 Championships
Entering the U20 Championships in Eugene, Frabotta was understandably a little unsure with what to expect from himself. He hadn't faced that type of national caliber competition before, but ultimately his lack of big-stage experience didn't show.
He took care of business in the opening round with a 3rd place finish in Heat 1 where he produced a time of 52.62. His effort landed him with the small q, the number six spot in the overall merged standings and, most importantly, a coveted invite to Sunday's finals.
He knew he still had more left in the tank, though.
"Although my race was definitely not the prettiest, I was extremely pleased with the outcome."
"I knew that there was a lot to work on and that gave me hope and confidence that I could drop my time down even more and that's what I ended up doing when it mattered most."
"Ultimately, I'm thrilled to have made the national team," Frabotta said.
Next stop: Mayaguez, Puerto Rico for the Pan American U20 Championships
When prompted about goals for his international racing debut, Frabotta tempered expectations acknowledging that he's once again venturing into unknown territory. He insisted, however, that the plan is to arrive in Puerto Rico in the shape of his life and to be ready to leave it all on the track.
"The main goal in Puerto Rico is to run another PR and to work on the small things that will continue to further drop my time and develop my game."
"The other goal for Pan Ams is to just enjoy the moment and not take this meet for granted because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Frabotta said.