Wash High’s Wise headed to Pitt

February 3, 2014
Wash High’s Alyssa Wise, winner of PIAA Class AA titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, accepted a full scholarship to Pitt. The senior sprinter also had an offer from Syracuse. - Associated Press

Winning the PIAA Class AA title in the 100- and 200-meter dashes can have quite an impact on a high school junior’s college recruitment. For Washington High School senior Alyssa Wise, her performance at the 2013 PIAA Track & Field Championships earned her a full-ride to the University of Pittsburgh.

Wise, who claimed first place in both races at Hershey as a junior, chose a scholarship from Pitt over an offer from Syracuse. After meeting the team and coaching staff, accepting the scholarship to continue her career with the Panthers felt like the right fit. A visit to Pitt’s campus in September made the decision an easy one.

“I clicked with the team and thought it would be a perfect fit,” Wise said. “The coaches seem great. I actually wanted to go further, but when I went to visit Syracuse, I didn’t really care for it. This seemed like a great program to be a part of. I’m excited for the next step.”

Wise, who prefers running the 100 over the 200, swept both races at the state championship meet with times of 11.85 and 24.85, respectively. The performance came just days after a first-place showing in the 100-meter at the WPIAL championships (12.18) and second place in the 200-meter (24.15).

“It was amazing,” Wise said. “I don’t even think words can describe how I felt, especially after winning the 200. This year, it’s nerve-racking in a way having a big target on my back and having to live up to what I did last year. I think it is going to be difficult.”

Wise will again be a key cog in Wash High’s talented track and field squad. Despite the lofty expectations, she is ready to begin her last season with the Prexies. In her first indoor meet Saturday, Wise admitted to not being conditioned enough and is determined to be ready once the season begins March 21.

“I’m really excited,” Wise said. “It’s my last year, and I want to make it count. Coming into my indoor meet on Saturday, I had not run nearly as much as I usually do leading up to a meet. The last real conditioning I did was during the state championships. That will change, and I will be ready.”

Schmidt bound for WVU

Ringgold forward Marlena Schmidt, a 6-6 junior, has given an oral commitment to West Virginia University to continue her basketball career.

Schmidt is averaging 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocks per game for the Rams (6-5, 11-8), who are battling for a playoff spot in Section 4-AAA. Laura Grimm, in her first year as Ringgold head coach after working as an assistant coach at Baldwin, praised Schmidt not only for her shot-blocking ability but the impact she has on the opposing team’s offensive strategy.

“That’s a big-time commitment for her,” Grimm said. “She would be the first to tell you that she has been defined by her size, probably as long as she can remember. She doesn’t like people to bring it up very often. We talk all the time about her biggest attribute is not just her ability to block shots, but to alter shots.”

Schmidt has been pivotal for the Rams’ attempt to claim a playoff spot. In seven of Ringgold’s eight losses, the Rams have lost by a margin of six points or less. Opposing teams have felt the need to plan against Schmidt, which has helped other players receive open looks.

“She’s done a really good job, and we taught her that she didn’t need to leave her feet so often,” Grimm said. “It would put her out of position, and that would lead to fouls being called against her. Ever since she stopped doing that, she has been a machine back there.”

Latsko to sign with Virginia

Peters Township senior forward Veronica Latsko, who missed this season with a knee injury suffered in May, has fully recovered from surgery and will sign with the University of Virginia Wednesday.

Latsko was the 2012 Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year in girls soccer and led the Indians to the Class AAA PIAA State Championship. She will sign her letter of intent Wednesday at 1:45 p.m.

It was unknown whether the devastating knee injury would prevent Latsko from signing with the Cavaliers, but Virginia is honoring the scholarship offer. Latsko was cleared to resume physical activity last week. She injured her knee May 26 at the Penn State Cup Championship at Slippery Rock University.

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