Washington's Wise breaks Olympian's record at damp WPIALs
With a hurt hamstring and rainy weather, Washington sprinter Alyssa Wise had plenty stacked against her.
Yet, she broke a record held by a WPIAL legend.
Wise won the Class AA girls 100 meters in 11.95 seconds at the WPIAL track and field championships Thursday, breaking a meet record set in 2001 by Rochester's Lauryn Williams (12.04), an Olympic medalist.
“I'm so excited right now, I can't even describe it,” said Wise, who is the defending WPIAL and PIAA champion in the 100 and 200 meters. “I didn't expect to perform this well today.”
Her week of uncertainty made it more impressive. She strained her hamstring last week in the WPIAL individual qualifier at South Side Beaver. Her availability for the championship was iffy until Thursday.
“I wasn't expected to run today,” she said, “but I sucked it up and ran.”
Wise finished ahead of Vincentian's Ally Bartoszewicz (12.20) and New Brighton's Essence Barron (12.76). The winning mark wasn't Wise's personal best; she ran 11.8 in last year's state championship.
“I was kind of doubtful (she would run), because she wasn't moving too good,” Washington sprints coach Rich Barnes said. “She did well today. It was just a matter of how well she could endure the pain. It was kind of sore, but she had a great performance.”
Shaler junior Brianna Schwartz, the WPIAL's premiere distance runner, also set a championship meet record in 1,600. Steady rain fell throughout the afternoon, but her run came during a short break.
“It cleared up right before we started,” said Schwartz, who finished in 4:45.19. “One of the officials said the mile must be God's favorite event.”
Elizabeth Forward's Matthew Bernadowski set a Class AAA record in the 110 hurdles (14.00), ahead of Gateway's Montae Nicholson (14.08).
Hempfield's Max Adams, West Mifflin's Deilona DeVaughn and California's Kailyn Clancy each were double winners in the discus and shot put. Brownsville's Maris Seto won the Class AA girls high jump and triple jump.
Springdale's Emily Lelis (14.51) won the Class AA hurdles for the fourth consecutive year.
Competition was paused several times while heavy rain fell. About 7:30 p.m., the meet was halted with nine events unfinished and postponed until 10 a.m. Saturday. The pole vault, 200, 800, 3,200, 300 intermediate hurdles and 1,600 relay were not yet held.
“I was really worried about the intermediate hurdles,” said Baldwin coach Ed Helbig, a WPIAL track committee member and the site coordinator. “When you have kids going over barriers in the rain like it was, it's a liability issue.”
Some long and triple jump finals also were not completed because the landing pits had become waterlogged.
“This afternoon it wasn't too bad, but we had that burst come through at about 4:30 p.m.,” Helbig said. “That just crushed us.”
A number of coaches believed the event never should have started.
“We've run in bad weather, but this should not have gone on,” Gateway coach Tom LaBuff said. “It's very rare that the weather report says 100 percent chance. Every other district canceled. These kids worked their tails off all year. They come here and are supposed to try to make times and distances in this crap.”
The top four finishers in Class AAA and top five in Class AA automatically qualify for the PIAA championship meet May 23-24 at Shippensburg. Anyone in the top eight who meets the state standard also qualifies, but there were few because of the weather.
“We knew we had 20 proms (Friday) night and 11 proms Saturday night,” said Tom Norris, a WPIAL track committee member. “We tried to stay away from them, but Mother Nature didn't bless us today.”