You can find a wolf pack almost anywhere. You can find them in the wild, in high school, in colleges and especially in sports. Pack mentality is the idea that large numbers are better than one.
Four members of the Keene State College Men’s Cross Country team including Philip Parent, Pat Chabot, Ryan Brady and Mark Rabasco running as a pack has proved to be better than being a lone wolf. Within the last few weeks the men have placed only seconds behind one another.
For example, on Sept. 13 the men competed at Dartmouth College. Ryan Brady finished 19th with a time of 25:39.70, just ahead of Patrick Chabot, who finished 23rd with a time of 25:43.80, while Philip Parent finished 25th with a time of 25:55.60 and Mark Rabasco placed 26th with a time 26:07.40.
The next race took place at Williams College on Sept. 27 . Ryan Brady came in first for the Owls with a 32nd-place finish and a time of 27.11. Then Mark Rabasco came in after Brady with a time of 28:04.01, only seconds in front of Philip Parent in 28:07.8.
Then again at the KSC invitational that took place on Oct. 4. Ryan Brady came in 4th with a time of 26:46, next was Philip Parent in 7th place with a time of 27:20 and 17 seconds later Mark Rabasco crossed the finish line with an 11th place finish and a time of 27:37.
Clearly these men have a strategy that is working for them. Mark Rabasco, a junior on the team explained how.
“You have to have a one to five split, which is thirty seconds in-between the first guy to cross the finish line and the fifth guy. We use pack running so we can all score within that amount of time,” Rabasco said.
The team runs close to 100 miles a week averaging between 10-12 miles a day along with tough work-outs on Mondays and Wednesdays. This training is what prepares these men to run an 8k course or five miles in twenty-five minutes. Most of the time they run together.
“When you run with a group it’s stronger and if you train with them you really learn how to communicate with each other,” Philip Parent, a first-year on the team, said.
“We really do everything together. We train, we go to the pool, we eat dinner together; in some way or form we are always together. When I’m in a race I think I’ve done everything I possibly can with you [teammates] and I can run this race with you too,” Rabasco said.
For Patrick Chabot, a sophomore on the team, it’s easy to find a running buddy because Brady is one of his roommates, he explained.
Chabot is also good friends with Parent.
The two attended high school together in Derry, N.H. but have been running competitively against one another since sixth grade.
“I’ve known Pat for a long time, we’ve always had a good, friendly rivalry going on and it normally works out best for the both of us,” Parent said. Chabot also expressed good intentions from this friendly rivalry.
“One of us will pick up the pace and the other will fall back then one of us will surge forward. We work really well off each other in races,” Chabot said.
Most people would define cross country as an individual sport, but if someone is just running for themselves, the overall team does not place well. All of these KSC men agree it’s better to finish as a team than by yourself.
“If there is a really fast front runner that finishes before everyone and everyone else is just scattered in the back, you won’t get anywhere. You may not be as fast as the front runner, but if you stay in the middle of the pack you can win over the team that has everyone scattered,” Chabot said.
“It’s just better in a group; pack mentality is so true — you don’t only want to beat your teammates, you want to push each other and have friendly competition that’s all positive,” Brady said.
Parent summed it up the best he could, he said, “This is a group you want to finish with. This is a group you want to be with. If someone is hurting, you want to be up there to give them a push or even when you could use a push to help yourself run a better race. If someone else is up there, I’m thinking I want to close that gap.”
He continued, “I can do a little better if I work with the team to place better instead of competing against each other. You know, all these other schools here want to beat me, but if you see someone on your team it’s like, ‘ Oh! There’s someone I can work with.’ My teammates, they aren’t out to beat me at all costs, but they are someone who wants to finish well as a team. It’s nice having a friendly face in the crowd,” Parent said. Whether it’s when they are training, hanging out eating dinner or motivating each other on the race course, these four men know what it’s like to truly work together as a team.
Kendall Pope can be contacted at email@example.com