OHIO CITY, Oh - Pat Sovacool ’05 looks back at his accomplishments in track and field and acknowledges, “This didn’t just happen. I’m competitive, worked hard and learned as much as I could. You could beat me in a race – but you’ll hurt doing it!”
That competitive spirit served Pat well during four years on the Saint Ignatius cross-country and track and field teams. Growing up in Lakewood at St. Mark’s school, he remembers being in first grade in 1993 and seeing Coach Chuck Kyle ’69 in the newspaper after the football team won three straight state championships. “I told my dad, ‘I want to go to Saint Ignatius!’”
Pat was “on cloud nine” when he received his acceptance letter. As a “scrawny kid,” he and his dad knew he wouldn’t cut it in football, so he’d run cross-country and try out for basketball and track. He soon discovered he was better at running than anything else.
In his junior year on the varsity cross-country team, he took off under guidance from assistant coach Michael “Doc” Gallagher ’71, a marathon runner and dentist.
“He knew physiology and prepared us to compete at a higher level. At that point, I wasn’t setting any records, but we put in a lot of work before my senior year.”
That fall, the cross-country team was ranked number one in Ohio – but only qualified one runner for state finals, a huge disappointment. “Doc Gallagher and I learned from that and put together a good training block for my senior year. I had a great track season, setting the school record in the mile at 4:11:15, yet to be broken.”
In the Regional Meet, Pat did well in the 1600 meter (one mile) and won the 800-meter race, even after a thunderstorm and sudden cold front delayed the race by more than an hour. Just a week later, at the State Meet, he placed third in the 800-meter and nailed second in the 1600-meter on the heels of the reigning national champion, helping the Wildcats secure the team state runner-up title.
Pat credits Chuck Kyle ’69 for teaching him to set goals and have the discipline to achieve them. “Before the State Meet, he said, ‘You’re going to look back on this accomplishment and know you can handle anything. Use it as a source of strength.’”
That strength helped Pat succeed at Miami University academically and in track and field, making the Mid-American Conference Championships, winning both the 1500m and 5000m in 2008 and making the USA Track and Field Championships his senior season. It also helped him survive the rigors of dental school and run a successful practice in a career inspired by Doc Gallagher.
With a wife and four young kids, Pat is too busy to run these days but hopes to be a coach someday and see his sons attend Saint Ignatius. “In the spirit of the ‘grad at grad,’ it made me into a well-rounded individual with great academic preparation and immersion in theology and service. I told my wife we can’t move further than 30 minutes away so our boys can go there!”
Pat Sovacool lives in Shaker Heights with his wife Kori and children Elizabeth (5), Annabelle (4), John (2),
and Daniel (1).
Pat will be inducted into the Saint Ignatius Athletic Hall of Fame on August 12 at Wildcats Roar. Tickets for the event are still available.