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David Vannucchi had yet to win a 3,200-meter state title entering Saturday. The Onalaska Luther junior came close last season but was passed by Valley Christian’s Wesley Schiek in the final 600 meters to take second. Sure, he had two Division 3 state cross country titles, and the 1,600 championship he won Friday, but the two mile eluded him.

That is until Saturday.

Vannucchi set the pace from the start and extended the gap over Rosholt junior Adam Rzentkowski in the final lap to take home the Division 3 3,200-meter title with a time of 9:17.39 at the WIAA state track and field meet at UW-La Crosse.

Rzentkowski finished 11 seconds behind him at 9:28.30.

“It feels really good,” Vannucchi said. “Yeah, a lot of miles put into this race. It feels good just to come out and execute. Everything came according to plan.”

Vannucchi also won the 1,600 yesterday pulling off the rare two-mile and mile sweep. But he felt he was capable to pull off the feat this year.

“You have to have confidence in yourself to know you are going to accomplish things and that was definitely the goal,” Vannucchi said.

After the race you couldn’t tell if Vannucchi was more excited for his victory or the fact that his teammate and fellow junior Sam Larson finished in third. Vannucchi yelled out with joy before embracing Larson right after he crossed the finish line.

“I knew he had it in him,” Vannucchi said of Larson who finished with a 9:46.8. “He was running faster than he was last year. And he looked really, really good doing it, so I told him state I know if you put it all in you are going to have it and he did. So I was really proud of him.”

For the majority of Saturday’s race it was Vannucchi and Rzentkowski. The two pulled away from the pack after the first lap with Rzentkowski right behind Vannucchi for the first six laps, but Vannucchi was just too strong down the stretch.

Vannucchi admitted the race had a bit of a different feel this season due to the fact that one of his fiercest competitors over the years, Wesley Schiek, switched schools from Valley Christian to Oshkosh North, meaning he went from Division 3 to Division 1. Schiek took fifth in the Division 1 3,200 Saturday. Vannucchi wanted the challenge of defeating Schiek and avenging last year’s late defeat.

“It’s tough not having him,” Vannucchi said. “I’m not going to lie we had a little bit of a rivalry and that fuels you to go faster. Now we are good friends and I’m happy to see him run in D-1, but yeah, I definitely miss him.”

Although the 3,200 wasn’t as exciting of a race as the 1600 was yesterday — when Vannucchi used a final burst in the last 200 to get past Rzentkowski to take the title — it was still a hard-fought race.

“It was just as hard as a race as it was yesterday,” Vannucchi said. “Not quite as exciting or scary, but same thing just run as hard as I could. It feels really good every time you step on the podium.”

Bucky!

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