When Washington High School junior Alyssa Wise felt dizzy because of the intense heat before the 100-meter dash at last year’s PIAA Class AA track and field championships, it was her cousin, Josh Wise, who ran to tell Alyssa’s mom.
Josh Wise, meanwhile, credits his WPIAL Class AA-best high jump mark of 6-7 to learning about Alyssa’s 100-meter title a few hundred yards away at Baldwin High School.
Josh and Alyssa Wise are not siblings, though they might as well be. They feed off each other. They motivate one another. Josh refers to Alyssa as his sister. Alyssa jokes about how Josh can still annoy her at times.
“We’re actually cousins, but we act like brother and sister and fight like brother and sister,” Alyssa Wise explained. “I love him like a brother. We’re always together. He encourages me to push myself at practice and vice-versa. He’s always there for me whenever I need him.”
Inseparable off the track – they’re together roughly every other day, Alyssa said – they might turn out to be in the same place quite a bit this spring: on the awards podium.
Alyssa Wise headlines the girls team’s list of returners after winning WPIAL 100 and 200 titles with times of 12.25 and 25.30 seconds, respectively, last spring.
She also ran on the second-place 400 relay team that finished with a WPIAL mark of 49.94. According to Alyssa Wise, this year that group should consist of herself, Aliya Moye, India March and Tajah Gordon.
Josh Wise won WPIAL high jump gold and finished fifth at states last year while helping the Wash High boys win the Class AA team title, the Prexies’ first since 1997.
“We like being around each other,” Josh Wise said of his sibling-like relationship with Alyssa. “Being a Wise and having the same family, we can always joke around with each other. We’re like the same person; we can relate on just about anything.”
Which, as far as Josh has been concerned lately, has meant injuries.
The older Wise is out until at least Monday with a strained muscle in his back.
He hopes to return – he hasn’t practiced since Monday – as soon as possible to begin his pursuit of WPIAL and PIAA gold.
“That is my motivation,” Josh Wise said of repeating as a high jump champion. “I wake up every morning, and I see my medal hanging, and it’s like, ‘Man, I have to go back-to-back. I have to.
“That’s how I’ve been thinking about it – WPIALs, then winning states. Losing is not an option.”
Fortunately, the Wash High boys return plenty around Wise; enough, they hope, to account for the loss of Dustin Fuller. Triple-jump champion Mijerean Witcher is back after jumping 43-1. Same for Darius Spinks, who was third in the long jump (21-9) and in the 100 dash (11.17).
National football recruit Shai McKenzie, who last year finished fourth at WPIALs in the 200 dash (22.76), recently tweeted that he dropped his 100 time from 11.56 to 11.2 seconds. McKenzie, who draws a crowd everywhere he goes because of his multitude of Division I offers, figures to contribute quite a bit in sprint events.
Chase Caldwell can score points in multiple events, and Rikwon Moore and Elijah Jones should help out in throwing events.
“Everybody still feels that another championship is within reach,” Wise said. “Everybody works hard. The distance guys have really stepped up. We have a lot of new sprinters, a lot of new jumpers. A lot of returning guys.
“I feel like we’re going to be contenders again, not just in the WPIAL but in the state.”