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The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

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Next Level Seniors: Milan Cieslak Continues His Athletic Journey at Washington State University

Jasmine McIntosh
One of senior Milan Cieslak’s favorite things about track has been the community. “Everyone I’ve met in the sport is so awesome,” he said. “It’s something special … It’s just been amazing.”

Throughout his high school career, senior Milan Cieslak’s goals were to get a state championship, break school records, and to earn an offer to run track at Washington State University (WSU). He has officially accomplished all three of these things. 

Having no prior experience with track, Cieslak’s athletic journey began his freshman year at La Salle, but he didn’t have a lot of success due to injury. After sophomore year, his talent in the sport became evident.

“I joined the club after my sophomore season and then it all picked up from there,” he said.

Among his successes, Cieslak has had to face a lot of adversity. Still, despite difficulties, he’s found ways to gain positive results. “When I started track, I didn’t stop getting better and I was on an upward hill,” he said. “Then I had this injury that I had to deal with for a whole year,” said Cieslak. However, in the end, this experience only strengthened him mentally. 

“I’ve grown a lot as a human being just through track, having to deal with these different challenges,” said Cieslak. 

Throughout his high school experience, there have been so many people that Cieslak has looked up to, such as his club coach and his coaches at La Salle. “They always show up,” he said, “I really appreciate them.” He’s also had multiple teammates that have inspired him and pushed him to improve. 

In particular, Cieslak’s club coach has played an impactful role in his life. “She’s probably been one of the most influential people in my life,” he said. “She has done so much for me as an athlete and as a human being.”

Although he might be leaving La Salle behind, he is still going to miss the community and all of the relationships that he has built there. In addition, he is going to miss the Portland area. “I’m going to miss the environment, I’m going to miss my family, but I’m overall excited,” said Cieslak.  

Some of Ceislak’s favorite memories at La Salle are breaking school records and going to state, where his 4×100 relay team took first place this year. “Any time I was at Hayward Field it was something special,” he said. Cieslak began to consider continuing track at the collegiate level when he started running low 11’s for the 100-meter dash and 22’s for the 200-meter dash. 

“My club coach encouraged me to take that path and to reach out to coaches junior year,” he said. “I had the opportunity to compete at some D1 meets and that opportunity alone showed that I could compete at that level,” he said. When he began talking to some coaches, the idea of pursuing track in college became a reality. 

When it comes to the recruiting process, consistency is something that Cieslak heavily recommends to athletes on a similar journey. “Be persistent. These coaches are busy, they don’t have a lot of time. You just need to make your presence known and you will be seen,” he said. 

There were various reasons why Cieslak chose to take his talents to Washington State University. The college seemed like a good fit financially and he has family friends that currently attend there. “I also had the opportunity to talk to their spring coach while I was competing at some meets and I built a connection with him,” he said. Overall, it checked a lot of Cieslak’s boxes. 

Cieslak’s connection with the track coach at WSU is what really helped set his decision in stone. “He’s a really inspirational guy,” he said. “I really liked his coaching values and how he really focuses on the individual,” he said. Cieslak sees that the other athletes there are so good at what they do and he admires the improvement that he has seen within the sprinting program. 

When Cieslak was younger, he played basketball for his school. (Courtesy of Milan Cieslak)

For high school, he ran the 4×100 relay, 100m, 200m, and the 4×400 relay. He has experimented with the open 400 meter and has had some experience with long jump. In college, Cieslak will most likely specialize in the 100m while also switching between the 200m, the 4×100, and the 4×400.

At WSU, Cieslak will major in kinesiology and the college’s program was one of the main things that appealed to him. He also fell in love with the overall location of the school and its campus. 

He is very aware of the new challenges that college will bring, but he won’t allow them to prevent him from achieving success. “I’m more excited than nervous,” he said. “I’m confident in myself that I’ll be able to keep up and do what I need to do. I’m really just excited for what’s to come.” 

Thanks to fellow D1 athletes, he has been provided with a lot of valuable insight on how to be successful at such a high level. He has learned the importance of time management, a good diet, and sleep. “If I’m well rested, I will be able to get through my workouts and stay disciplined,” he said. 

Through his track experience, Cieslak has learned the importance of mental toughness, especially when things don’t go in the desired direction. 

To help cope with the mental aspect of the sport, he stresses the benefit that focus offers. “Focus on yourself, focus on your own races, take deep breaths, and that’s about it,” he said. “You have to find your own space, find your own zone, and tune out other distractions.”

As of right now, Cieslak is still in the process of making new goals to strive for after accomplishing his previous ones in high school. 

“I have new goals that need to be set,” he said. Still, Cieslak knows one thing for sure: he wants to make an impact on Washington State’s track and field team. “I want to be someone who can score them points and be a part of their program,” he said.

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