NOAH FISH email@example.com
Jun 2, 2017
For the first seven laps of the WIAA Division 3 boys 3,200-meter race Friday afternoon at UW-La Crosse’s Roger Harring Stadium, it seemed likely that Onalaska Luther High School sophomore David Vannucchi and junior Wesley Schiek of Valley Christian would run to another thrilling finish.
Vannucchi and Schiek’s last gripping race came this past fall in the Division 3 boys state cross country race, when Vannucchi won by 6 seconds.
But Schiek’s strategy became clear a few strides into the final lap, as he bolted the final 400 meters to an uncontested end, finishing at 9 minutes, 28 seconds — six seconds ahead of Vannucchi, who collapsed when he crossed the line at 9:34.
Schiek’s race strategy made for an unexpected outcome for Vannucchi, who battled to keep the lead in a grueling and at times scrappy race during one of the hottest points of the afternoon.
“I felt him on my back the whole race,” Vannucchi said. “I thought maybe he was going to share the lead with me, or it was anyone’s race. For me, the best way to win was to keep pushing the pace, and that’s what I did.”
There were some shoves between Vannucchi and Schiek as they battled for position in the first few hundred meters. In the latter half of the race, Schiek ran stride-for-stride, barely behind Vannucchi, which resulted in some tangling of cleats.
“I know David well,” said Schiek, who intended to keep Vannucchi in checking distance until the last 600 meters.
Schiek is still recovering from a recent battle with the flu, and thought it would be wise to let Vannucchi set the pace so he wouldn’t overwork himself. He also knew there weren’t many runners in the state who could contend with his kick.
“I felt good. The pace was slow and easy for me,” said Schiek, who’s shins were bloodied from Vannucchi’s cleats. “He was getting a little feisty during the race, and I was just in my normal strides. I actually got cut up a couple times, but you know, that happens. He’s a great runner, and I give him all the props and respect him.”