SHIPPENSBURG – Washington High School senior Alyssa Wise was not able to defend the PIAA Class AA 200-meter title after a strained left hamstring forced her to withdraw from the event at the WPIAL qualifiers two weeks ago.
At the PIAA Track & Field Championships Friday, the same injury cost Wise her defense of the 100-meter dash. Wise, who aggravated the injury running the 400-meter relay at the WPIAL Championships at Baldwin last week, had been relegated to jogging in practice.
She was the favorite to win the 100 in Shippensburg until her hamstring injury flared again. Prior to the race, Wise practiced a few starts out of the blocks with a pink-taped bandage wrapped around the hamstring.
When the starter’s gun went off, Wise was in front of the pack for the first 40 meters. As soon as she started to accelerate, the pain became overwhelming.
The Pitt recruit hobbled through the remainder of the race to finish in sixth place in her heat with a time of 13.36 and failed to advance. The fact she beat two competitors with only one good leg showed her talent.
“When I started to pick up speed, my leg was like, ‘No, I’m not having it,’” Wise said. “It just kind of gave. I had this gut feeling that something was going to happen when I was in the blocks. I just tried to suck it up, but I couldn’t handle the pain.”
Wise has dealt with the pain since suffering the injury in the Southern Qualifier at South Side Beaver High School. She was able to win the WPIAL Class AA title in the 100 in 11.95, breaking the meet record of Rochester graduate and former Olympic medalist Lauryn Williams. Wise accomplished that historic feat on a rain-soaked track and with just one fully functioning hamstring.
After crossing the finish line at Shippensburg, Wise dropped to the ground. Once she pulled herself up and walked off the track, she dropped to her hands and knees in tears.
“Coming into this, I was in pain anyway,” Wise said. “All this week training, I just couldn’t handle it. I’ve never felt like this before.”
Despite the injury, Wise will leave Wash High as one of the most decorated track athletes in school history. She made four consecutive trips to the state championships – winning both dashes as a junior – and claimed four WPIAL titles.
“I know she’s disappointed,” Washington head coach Teresa Booker said. “She really wanted to repeat what she did last year. She has had four wonderful years. To be here all four years and make it to this level is incredible. Now, we get to see her go on to the next level, and I know we’ll see great things at Pitt from her.”
Wash High assistant coach Richie Barnes, who has played an integral role in the senior’s strength and conditioning, held Wise out during practices this week to prevent aggravating the injury.
Barnes admitted to being surprised Wise was able to compete at the WPIAL Championships.
“All week, she couldn’t practice – just like during the (WPIAL Championships),” Barnes said. “It was a good try. She was hurting, but there’s nothing you can do. It all came at the end. She had a great season. We didn’t want to push her and had to see what she could do today.”
Wise was forced to withdraw from the 400-meter relay, which qualified for Saturday’s semifinals with a time of 50.56 using freshman Da’Shea Sweeney as a replacement.
Wise won’t compete at the New Balance National Outdoor Track & Field Championships June 13. She will spend the coming months rehabbing the injury and preparing to join Pitt’s track program.
“It’s over,” Wise said. “There’s nothing I could do – knowing my high school career is over and this is how it ended. It (stinks).”