March 12, 2014
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
By Kameron Payne, WWU sports information office
Having already earned the tag of Western Washington University's "Fastest Human," sprinter Alex Donigian (pronounced Doe-Knee-Gee-In) is competing this weekend in the men's 60 meters at the NCAA Division II National Indoor Track & Field Championships in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Donigian enters the meet tied for fourth nationally with a time of 6.75 seconds accomplished a month ago at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships.
Finishing among the top eight at nationals would earn him All-America recognition.
Donigian was named Male Outstanding Performer in helping the Viking men to a GNAC title. His winning 60 and 200 (21.79) times were both school and conference records.
Last spring, Donigian established a school outdoor record of 10.57 in the 100. His best 200 time of 21.83 ranks sixth in school history and he ran on a 4x100 relay that recorded WWU's second-best time of 41.36.
Donigian, a junior from Mission Viejo, Calif., attended Trabucco Hills High School where he was the indoor state champion in the 55 meters. As a freshman, he competed at NCAA I University of Northern Colorado but did not have a good experience.
"I just did not get along with the coaches there," said Donigian. "They wanted to control me and had me questioning myself and why I ran. That wasn't jiving with my idea of running and my personal relationship with it."
So, Donigian, a bio-chemistry major, came to WWU to concentrate on academics with little or no intention of running track.
However, after some time thinking it over and persuasion from his mother, Donigian decided to give track another shot.
WWU assistant track coach David Burnett knew from his first meeting with Donigian that he would be a great fit for the program and for him to coach.
"His personality is unique, he's the kind of kid every coach dreams of having from being a leader to a performer," Burnett said. "He needed a coach to motivate him and we clicked from the get-go."
Donigian said his running career changed drastically the day he met Burnett.
"Everything changed. I met him and realized he believes in the art of running, not just me being a puppet, but him and I creating something together. That is what I'd been looking for."
Head coach Pee Wee Halsell, who has been at WWU for 27 years, says he has never met an athlete quite like Donigian when considering both his personality and his ability.
"I say it's a God-given talent, but he also is doing the work to make sure that talent is being used," Halsell said.
Donigian goes beyond what it takes just to be a fast runner. He is learning every aspect of what is needed to be the fastest and perfecting each facet.
"He is becoming a student of the sport, not just learning what it takes to get from zero meters to the finish," Burnett said. "He's learning the little things it takes to keep his body physically and mentally prepared.
"He's a tough guy who has gone that extra mile, made several gains in the weight room, and is doing everything off the track he needs too to keep his mind and body ready for the next competition."
Despite his successes, Donigian is not content and is always pushing himself for more.
"I get up in the morning and think, `what can I do to run faster?' I wake up and the first thing I do is some stretching in my bed," Donigian said. "It's a lifestyle, it's not just something I think about - it's something I live. It's validation of me using the tools I've been given and making the most of them."
While happy about making it to indoor nationals, Donigian says his ultimate goal is to top the charts in the outdoor 100, an event that has the toughest and most known competition.
Though just at the start of his junior year, Donigian shows the maturity and leadership of a senior.
"He's out there doing the things he needs to do and leads by example," Halsell said. "He's very serious about every aspect of training, whether it's in the warm-up and stretching or giving it his all on the track."
Donigian sums it up best.
"The reason why I run is because it's a way for me to spiritually get in contact with myself, God, and the world around me," Donigian said. "The reason why I run so well is because of my drive to succeed."