Story by UMO Athletics Intern Cedric Thomas
Pol Domenech Ferrer, a senior on the University of Mount Olive cross country and track teams is doing something far different than a lot of senior student-athletes in his position. He is interning with the USA Track & Field (USTAF) in Indianapolis, Indiana, 702 miles away from Mount Olive. While he works earning his hours for his internship, Pol still finds time to train and compete.
"It was my combination of a good resume and a little luck that helped me obtain this internship," said Ferrer. "I also think that being international and having a second language played in my favor. During my internship last summer I made a lot of connections within the organization, and that opened me a door to come back for a second time here. I got to network with the Chief of High Performance Duffy Mahoney, and he invited me to come on board to help out the department for the upcoming national and international competitions."
Ferrer, a native of Barcelona Spain, is a four-year runner on both the cross country and track & field teams and has participated in three cross country national championships, three regional championship teams in cross country, and ten Conference Carolinas cross country and track & field championship teams. Ferrer was named the 2016 Conference Carolinas Cross Country Runner of the year and has managed to write his name in the Mount Olive history books being top ten in the 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, 10000m, 800m (indoor), and mile (indoor). His success on the track has transferred to the classroom, where he holds a 3.7 GPA with a major in Exercise Science.
Along with performing his internship, he still finds time out of the day to train. "Training in another state and finding the time to after a long day isn't an easy task," Ferrer said. Ferrer accomplished even a bigger goal by traveling from Indiana to Winston-Salem on February 19 to compete in his final Conference Carolinas Indoors Championship. The senior went on to take second in the mile, fifth in the 3000m, and seventh in the 5000m. "The credit [of winning both the men's and women's championships] goes to the coaches and the seniors whose leadership was a huge part of winning the championship," said Ferrer.
Ferrer, who graduates this Saturday, has set his eyes on staying in the United States for a bit longer to continue to work within the sports industry. Reflecting on this year's experience, Ferrer said "I had the best season of my life and probably the worst championship race of my life, after cross country nationals this past November. Coach [Matt van Lierop] said to me that one bad race should not define a whole season. I took all the positives from the great season of training that I had as well as learning from my bad experience at nationals," Ferrer said.
For the outdoor track & field season, Ferrer wanted to stay healthy and win another conference championship. "The most important thing for me is to stay healthy. An athlete cannot be an athlete if they are not in the starting line. Second, I want to bring both trophies home again. My last goal is something that I've wanted to do since I came to Mount Olive, to go to nationals as an individual," said Ferrer.
Ferrer concluded his season with another championship and the men's track & field team earned the school's first-ever triple crown, sweeping all the cross country and track & field conference championships. At the outdoor track & field championship Ferrer competed in five events as he finished fifth in the 800m, third in the 1500m, ninth in the 5000m, sixth in the 10000m, and second in the 3000m steeplechase.
"One could not ask for a better student-athlete than Pol. For someone to train on their own, with no coach present, or teammates to push them, and still, do what he did this semester, That is impressive! Not only was he able to set personal bests in both the 5000m and 10000m while he was interning with USATF, but he returned for the conference championship, and was able to compete in the 800m, 1500m, 5000, 10000m, and the steeplechase. An incredible feat for an incredible young man. I'm honored to have been a part of his life," said Director and Head Coach Matt van Lierop.