Tens of thousands of high school athletes from around Pennsylvania will compete in track and field this spring, but Alyssa Wise is different than all of the others.
Wise is the most decorated female sprinter in the state.
A senior at Washington High School, Wise was a golden girl last season, as she swept the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the PIAA Class AA championships. Her time of 11.85 seconds in the 100 was just 0.07 shy of the PIAA record held by Rochester great Lauryn Williams, an Olympic medalist.
So what will Wise do for an encore before she takes her talents to Pitt? Wise, who chose the Panthers over Syracuse, said she would like to sweep the sprint events at the WPIAL championships, something she did not do last season when she placed second in the 200 to Vincentian's Ally Bartoszewicz.
A second "double" at the PIAA championships would be sweet, too, with breaking Williams' 13-year-old record being the icing on the cake.
"I want to hopefully maintain my times and possibly get better and improve my times," said Wise, who holds school records in the 100, 200 and a member of the record-setting 400 relay team as well. "Another goal is, hypothetically thinking, if I make states again, I could get the record."
Washington track coordinator Teresa Booker has watched Wise steadily grow into an elite performer the past few years. When Wise was a freshman, she placed fifth in the 100 and fourth in the 200 at the WPIAL championships. As a sophomore, Wise won the 100 and 200 and finished third in both events at the PIAA championships.
Booker said that from what she has seen from Wise so far this spring, Wise's times could continue to drop and records could continue to shatter.
Through this past weekend, she had the district's top reported times this season in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes at 11.8 and 25.4, respectively.
"She's much stronger than she was at the beginning of last season and even toward the end of last season," Booker said.
Wise will also compete on Washington's 400 relay team that could be the best in the WPIAL. Joining her will be junior Aliya Moye, sophomore Tajah Gordon and senior India March. The same group was favored to win at last year's WPIAL championships, but their golden dreams were dashed because of a dropped baton in the third turn.
"We're pretty determined this year," Wise said.
Wise's potential sprint to more gold won't come easy, as most of the other top finishers at last year's WPIAL Class AA championships are back. Her top competition could come from Vincentian's Ally Bartoszewicz, who broke a WPIAL record in edging out Wise in the 200. Bartoszewicz placed second in the 100, and finished in the top four in both events at the PIAA championships.
A few of the other top WPIAL Class AA sprinters are New Brighton's Essence Barron, Beaver's Ruthe Neeley and Vincentian's Kayla Key.
"I think [the competition is] going to be similar to last year. The big one is Ally from Vincentian," Wise said.
Wise is also expecting big things from her team. Washington is hoping to match the success of its boys team, the two-time defending WPIAL Class AA champions. The Washington girls made the WPIAL playoffs each of the past two seasons, but were ousted in the first round both times.
Booker, who also coaches the boys team, thinks the girls could be outstanding.
"I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what the girls will do," Booker said. "I think they can shine. Hopefully, they'll win the WPIAL title. We definitely have a shot at it. We're definitely going to be strong because we have everybody back."
In addition to Wise, Moye, Gordon and March, the Little Prexies' wealth of talent includes the likes of sophomore Nicole Hoffman, senior Andrea Sharp and senior Patience Frazier. Sharp, a middle-distance runner, missed last season because of a torn ACL.
"I honestly think this is going to be the girls' year," Wise said. "The last few years, the focus was on the guys. We're going to have a pretty good year."