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Dominic Black named new Army World Class Athlete Program Commander at Fort Carson

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Dominic Black thrived as a wrestler with his commitment to excellence as a member of the U.S. Army's World Class Athlete Program.

He plans to bring the same mentality to his new role.

On a gorgeous, sun-splashed morning with the mountains serving as a scenic backdrop, Black was introduced Tuesday as the new Commander for the WCAP program at Fort Carson during a short outdoor ceremony.

The 36-year-old Black, a Captain in the Army, wrestled in the WCAP program from 1998 to 2002, and in 2004. He replaces the outgoing Commander, Major Michael J. Hagen.

"Dominic is a great guy," Hagen said. "I think it really helps having a Commander that has experience as an athlete in the World Class Athlete Program. They understand the challenges and they can hit the ground running. He's a great leader. I know he will do a great job."

Black was an All-American wrestler at West Virginia before excelling internationally in freestyle. He made U.S. World Teams in 1999 and 2001 at 213.75 pounds. He was runner-up at the 2000 Olympic Trials, reaching the finals against Melvin Douglas.

"I am extremely excited about this opportunity," Black said of his new role as Commander. "When I first came here as an athlete, you always looked up to the command staff and had high regards for the Commander because he's essentially the person who is going to lead you and support you in your goals and everything. To be here as the Commander, I'm just extremely honored and happy to be back with the Olympic family again."

The Army World Class Athlete Program was created in 1978. It was established to provide soldiers of World-class caliber the opportunity to participate in training for national and international sports competitions. The World Class Athlete Program includes a number of Olympic sports and provides opportunities for both men and women.

Black has a vision for what he wants to accomplish as Commander.

"I really want to support the mission we have and support the athletes," he said. "I want to keep up with the traditions they've had. A lot of Olympians have come through here and we've had good success as far as medal count. I want to continue to improve upon that standard for the program and also assist the soldiers with their military careers."

A number of wrestlers from the WCAP program were on hand for the ceremony, including past World champions Dremiel Byers and Iris Smith, and World silver medalist Tina George. Byers and George will compete in the World Championships on Sept. 25-Oct. 1 in Guangzhou, China.

"(Coach) Shon Lewis has kept the tradition of the wrestling program going and they are doing some really good things," Black said. "We have nine members on the National Team right now and two on the World Team. I am looking forward to seeing Sgt. Byers and Sgt. George compete at the World Championships."

Black has earned numerous awards and decorations for his service in the Army. That service included a six-month stint last year in Iraq with a Special Forces unit.

"When you're a member of this voluntary service, it's one of the things you expect to do," he said of going to Iraq. "I was actually excited for the opportunity to go to Iraq and do my job. Being in that type of environment, it does put things on the homefront in perspective where anything can happen at anytime."

Black said his wrestling background has served him well in life.

"Wrestling has taught me a lot about hard work and discipline," he said. "You get used to being strict with yourself and you learn a lot of hard lessons. All the tough things and all the lessons you experience as a wrestler make a lot of other things seem pretty simple."
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