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Fast starter: Former track standout off to impressive start at ISU

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Former Indian Creek standout Katie Wise, right, is off to a fast start as a freshman on the Indiana State University women's track and field team. A former IHSAA state champion in the 100-meter sprint, she is already one of the fastest sprinters in Sycamores history.
Former Indian Creek standout Katie Wise, right, is off to a fast start as a freshman on the Indiana State University women's track and field team. A former IHSAA state champion in the 100-meter sprint, she is already one of the fastest sprinters in Sycamores history. PHOTO BY RACHEL KEYES

Katie Wise acknowledges the transition from high school track and field to college took some getting used to.

For starters, the Indiana State University campus is considerably larger than Indian Creek High School, where she was a four-year standout.

Finding her way around was an adjustment.

So was balancing the heightened challenges of classwork and athletic training, along with finding a niche as a freshman on an entirely new team with new teammates.

The Wise File

Name: Katie Wise

Sport: Track and field

College: Indiana State University

Year: Freshman

Specialty events: 60- and 200-meter sprints

Age: 19

High school: Indian Creek (2012)

High school highlights: 2011 IHSAA state champion in 100-meter sprint; placed third in 200 meters in 2011; four-time state meet qualifier in 100 and 200; undefeated in 100 in 2011; finished second in 100 at 2012 Midwest Meet of Champions

College highlights: Made college debut at Dec. 7, 2012 Eastern Illinois Early Bird Meet and won the 60- and 200-meter sprints; has second-fastest time in Indiana State history in the 60-meter sprint at 7.42 seconds; has third-fastest time school history in the 200 sprint at 24.19 seconds.

Favorite TV show: Catfish

Favorite movie: “Love and Basketball”

Other interests: Listening to music, spending time with friends, training for track

Major: Elementary education

Career goal: Become an elementary school teacher

Parents: Randy and Shannon Wise

But for Wise, two things haven’t changed.

She still has jitters before each race, and she’s still blazing fast.

“Everything’s gone well so far,” said Wise, perhaps understating a bit.

Things have, after all, gone better than “well.” For Wise and the Sycamores, things couldn’t be much better.

A four-year IHSAA state meet qualifier at Indian Creek, Wise has wasted no time demonstrating why the Sycamores — ranked No. 18 in the nation — made recruiting her a priority. The 2011 state champion in the 100-meter sprint, she won her very first college races and did so in eye-popping fashion.

In the Dec. 7 indoor season-opening Eastern Illinois Early Bird Meet, Wise won her specialty event — the 60-meter sprint — in 7.61 seconds, the sixth-fastest time in Indiana State history. She followed with a victory in the 200 sprint in a time of 25.43, the 18th-best time in team history.

She’s done nothing but get faster ever since.

One of the Sycamore’s top two points scorers, along with senior thrower Felisha Johnson, Wise posted the second-fastest time in Indiana State history in the 60 at the Feb. 8 Grand Valley State Big Meet. She clocked in with a personal-best time of 7.42 — the 39th best time in the nation this season.

At the same meet, Wise recorded the third-best time in Sycamores history in the 200 at 24.19.

As her times foreshadow, she is seeded first and second, respectively, in the 60 and 200 for Saturday’s and Sunday’s Missouri Valley Valley Conference Meet in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Indiana State coach Angela Martin knew Wise would make an immediate impact on what is one of the nation’s top programs. But she didn’t know exactly how big an impact.

“She had a great high school career, and we knew she was fast,” Martin said. “We were very excited that she wanted to come to Indiana State. She has a lot of drive to be successful.

“Her first meet was pretty good,” Martin added with a laugh. “We were very excited about how she did, and I think she’s kind of surpassed some of the things we expected her to do as a freshman already.”

Wise also has exceeded her own freshman expectations.

“I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to go out and win, but I wasn’t sure that’s what was going to happen,” she said. “But I’m doing pretty good so far.”

Again, an understatement. She seldom lost in high school and is picking up where she left off.

Wise and Johnson, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the weight throw and No. 2 in the shot put, are two of the catalysts for the Sycamores’ success. Despite her comparative inexperience, Wise has been an undisputed leader on a deep, talented team that has 52 athletes, including sophomore distance runner Amy Hicks from Greenwood.

Wise, who was undefeated in the 100 sprint in 2011 on her way to becoming Johnson County’s first female IHSAA track champion, attributes much of her early success to being pushed by superior athletes.

“In college, every day’s just like a state meet. There’s always going to be good competition,” she said. “It wasn’t like that in high school. There were some meets that I didn’t really have to try much, but here you have to go all out every race.

“The more competition I have, it seems the faster I run.”

Pre-race jitters, like the kind she had in high school, also fire up the afterburners.

“I always get nervous before a race, no matter what it is,” she said. “I always get nervous.”

Fortunately for the Sycamores, she almost always wins.

“Her strengths are her heart and her competitiveness, because she doesn’t like to lose,” Martin said. “She’s willing to learn. It’s kind of a rude awakening when you go from high school to being the best on your team and in the state, and then you come onto a team where it’s very competitive. She’s got a good head on her shoulders.

“Sometimes as a freshman you don’t get that quick success. She’s done a great job of handling it.”

And the best news for Indiana State is that Wise hasn’t hit her ceiling. The school record in her best event, the 60, is 7.21, set in 1994 by national champion Hollie Hyche. Wise would like to break it.

She isn’t sure she will, but she has plenty of time to try.

“I didn’t know how fast I was going to be,” she said. “I knew I was fast in high school, but now I’ve showed myself that I can be fast in college, too.

“I’m only a freshman, so hopefully there’s more to come.”

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