LA CROSSE — McDonell senior Charlie Bleskachek capped his prolific high school athletic career with a second-place finish in the Division 3 800-meter run on Saturday afternoon on the final day of the WIAA State Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The senior used a tried-and-true Macks distance tactic to finish near the front, taking a methodical approach early on before making his move in the later half of the race and passing three runners on the final lap.
“To be runner-up it’s really exciting,” Bleskachek said. “I was going for the win obviously but there’s a lot of other good guys here too so to be able to runner-up is exciting and I’m happy with that.”
Bleskachek finished in one minute, 59.28 seconds as Rosholt’s Adam Rzentkowski (1:56.35) won the race, his third victory of the weekend after also winning the 1,600 and 3,200 titles.
“I knew everyone was going to go out fast with it being a state race everyone has all the adrenaline pumping,” Bleskachek said. “It was a quick start but I knew to be in it at the end I had to go out smart and under control and that’s what I did.”
Bleskachek did just that, showing the veteran savvy of an athlete competing at the state track and field championships for the fourth year in a row to grab his second podium finish in the event after taking fifth a year ago.
“I was gaining on him (Rzentkowski) but at the 400-to-600 (point) I was boxed in, so I tried to break free,” Bleskachek said. “I tried to close as much ground as I could.”
Saturday’s second brings to a close a stellar career at McDonell for Bleskachek, who advanced to state tournaments in 11 of 12 sports seasons. He was a part of the 2016 McDonell boys basketball team’s Division 5 state championship as well as the 2018 Division 5 runner-up, being apart of hoops teams to advance to state in each of the previous four seasons. Bleskachek ran at the Division 3 state cross country championships on three occasions during his decorated career.
Bleskachek will run cross country and track and field in college at Concordia-St. Paul University in Minnesota.
“After it was over I just took a deep breath and realized my high school career is over, but I’m looking forward to college and what that brings for me,” Bleskachek said.
Smiskey hits podium in shot put with fifth
McDonell junior Rachel Smiskey saved her best toss for the shot put finals and it got her on the podium as she finished fifth with a best throw of 37-feet, 9.75-inches.
Smiskey was ninth in the preliminaries to advance to the finals and she unleashed her best throw of the day in her first of three finals throws. Mercer’s Aubrey Schoeneman won the championship with a throw of 43-3.75.
Smiskey was making her first appearance at state and early on had to throw in some light rain during preliminaries before the skies cleared for the finals.
“It was kind of nasty right away and I hadn’t throw too much in that kind of weather so it was just getting used to it. Then the rain stopped, I could ease into it and get more on the throw,” Smiskey said.
Smiskey finished third at sectionals with a best throw of 37-5 to advance to state.