PATRICK MCAULEY ‘20 | STAFF WRITER • This past week, while most students were readying their stomachs to engulf copious amounts of tasty turkey, Dominic Patacsil ’19 took his running shoes to Elsah, Illinois for the 2017 NCAA DIII Cross Country Championships. The experienced runner actively has participated in this event since his freshman year and improved his finish position drastically: this year he placed 12th compared to 114th his freshman year. All of this did not come without hard work and determination.
This year was different for the runner. Given that this is an end of the season race, Patacsil knew that his confidence level was in top, competitive shape. All of his prior races, practices, coaching advice, and so on had led him to a specific belief: this year was going to be different. “I knew this was just another race,” Patacsil said. “I have put in the work to compete, and I deserve to be here just like everyone else.” Through this hard work and experience, the runner was ready to take on just about anything that day, and it all started in the morning.
Preparation can make a huge difference. The morning of the race, Patacsil woke up around 6:50 a.m. After some dynamic stretching, he ate a breakfast consisting of oatmeal. (It’s his usual on-the-road routine). Next, he headed out to the track for warm ups and mental provision. His warm ups consist of muscle activation to loosen up his joints, which (literally) warms up his internal organs, muscles, and gets the blood flowing. Without this phase, he could risk a possible cramp or pulled muscle during a race. After this, he sat with his coaches, who have a keen ability to keep the mood light and airy, for a substantial amount of time before the race started. Finally, it was time to begin one of the most important races of his athletic career.
Patacsil was anxious, but this is normal. For most athletes, the period before any major competition can be nerve-racking. There are many thoughts and unanswered questions flowing through the brain, but most likely the other runners have them too. At the starting line, Patacsil had one significant idea that separated itself from others: the yearning to gain a good jump out of the gate. Like horse racing, this can be the difference between finishing in the top ten or at the back of the pack.
Patacsil pushed out quick to give himself a stable running position for most of the race.
Good starts are his style. The Wabash runner tries to focus on many vital strategies when running a good race, but most importantly he looks to stay calm and level-headed. This mindset becomes problematic if he were to have a bad jump out of the gate; the pressure builds because the focus now is to catch up to the front. Patacsil, however, maintained a calm head and kept himself in a position where he would not fall behind. He learned a lot from this experience.
Achieving greatness takes a strong heart. For this Wabash runner, the cards were in his hands, and he was ready to play his best suit. He is the definition of a Wabash student-athlete: a good student, hard worker (on and off the race course), a nice guy, and passionate about what he does. After the race, Patacsil remembers a feeling of love and appreciation for those surrounding him; his parents, friends, family members, coaches, and teammates were there in support. “When I came from underneath the shoot at the
finish line, I remember seeing my brother. I gave him a massive hug,” Patacsil said. “It was a great feeling to know that I had family there supporting me.”
His next step is to go above and beyond. Most college athletes usually pick one Division to stay in for the entirety of their four years. Patacsil, however, has decided to test his skills at the next level, Division One that is. He will apply for graduate school and save his last year of eligibility so that he can compete in a different program. He is doing the unthinkable, but in his mind, it is very much a dream. This dream will soon become his reality.