WAKE FOREST — Enloe High junior Dominick Patterson is a championship hurdler who knows where he wants to go, not only on the track, but also in the career he already is pursuing.
Patterson won the Cap Eight 4A Conference 300-meter hurdles last week at Heritage High, adding the conference title to the boys 15-16 national championship he won in the 400 hurdles at the USATF Junior Olympics Nationals in 2013 at N.C. A&T.
The titles wont help him Saturday as he competes in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Mideast 4A regionals at Apex High. He must have a top-four finish to advance to the NCHSAA championships on May 17 at N.C. A&T in Greensboro, where he hopes to contend for a state title.
Pattersons 39.43 time is seeded third in the regional behind West Johnsons Xavier Carter (38.73) and Garners Nyheim Hines (39.12).
Patterson was sixth in last years 4A championships and says a time of around 37 seconds will be needed to win the same title this year.
I havent done that yet, but I think I can, he said.
Enloe coach Brian Fullenkamp has high praise for Pattersons intangibles.
Dominick is special in that he knows how good he is, but hes not the least bit arrogant, Fullenkamp said. With him, its all positive and just trying to get better. Hes very humbled about everything. If he wins a state title, thats fine with him, but if not hell be fine as long as he does his best. Hes very grounded.
Patterson is also developing into a quiet leader on the Enloe track team.
He doesnt like to lose and will not quit, even in a race when he fell down, Fullenkamp said. We dont throw his name out there, but the other kids see how hard he works. He goes to do extra work and others will follow him, because they see him busting his butt. And they like to be around him.
Patterson knows he has ground to make up to be a factor in the state championships, but he has done that before.
I was so happy when I won at nationals last year, because I worked so hard and that reassured me that I dont need to worry, just keep working and it will come to me, he said. I know I can get better at getting over the first hurdle and I can finish the race stronger. Ive got things to improve on.
Patterson already knows he wants a career in the medical field and is a student in the Wake Early College of Health and Sciences, a magnet school that features a partnership among the Wake County Schools, Wake Technical Community College and WakeMed Health and Hospitals.
WECHS students will graduate after five years with a high school diploma and a degree, diploma or certificate from Wake Technical in a health or sciences field.
WECHS does not have athletic teams, but its students are eligible for N.C. High School Athletic Association athletics at Enloe.
I had wanted to be a physical therapist, Patterson said. But about a year ago I decided I want to be an orthopedic surgeon after my mom (Mary Patterson) had a bad knee and she had surgery and went through a lot of pain. Thats when I knew I wanted to help people, help them move again and get mobility back.