A desire to prove she’s among the nation’s premier collegiate sprinters has placed Katie Wise 1,200 miles from her everyday surroundings.
Yet to Wise, a sophomore member of the Indiana State University women’s track and field program, a certain familiarity exists in pushing one’s body to its absolute limits over any of three distances — 60, 100 or 200 meters.
Wise is in Albuquerque, N.M., awaiting the start of the NCAA Indoor Championships scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The former Indian Creek High School standout is one of 16 Division I athletes who qualified in the 60-meter dash.
This is Wise’s first trip to this country’s 47th state, and she’s looking to make it memorable.
“I really like the 60 indoor, and I’m in better shape now than I’ve ever been,” said Wise, who qualified this month after taking first at the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships in a time of 7.30 seconds.
“I want to PR (personal record). That’s my main focus. I want to make it to finals, but I’ll be satisfied if I PR.”
Wise’s time ranks her 13th of this weekend’s 16 qualifiers. Kentucky junior Dezerea Bryant and Oregon freshman Jasmine Todd are 1-2 with respective fast times of 7.16 and 7.20 seconds.
Wise is one of seven individual female qualifiers from an Indiana college taking part in the championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Others are three shot-putters, Mary Theisen of Indiana State, Kyla Buckley of Indiana and Dani Bunch of Purdue; Butler’s Mara Olson in the 3,000-meter run; Notre Dame’s Jade Barber in the 60 hurdles; and Purdue’s Cierra Brown in the triple jump.
Wise is coming off a freshman indoor season in which she won the MVC Indoors in the 60 in 7.51 seconds and ran a then-personal-best 7.42 at the Grand Valley State Big Meet. In the 200, her 24.78 stands third all-time in program history.
She followed these accomplishments with an outstanding outdoor season, placing 21st at the NCAA Finals in the 100-meter dash in 11.48 seconds. Wise’s 11.33 from earlier in the season is third-fastest in Indiana State history, while her personal-best of 23.92 in the 200-meter dash is fifth-fastest.
Wise was a lightning bolt out of the blocks in high school, qualifying for the state finals all four years in the 100 and 200 and winning the 100-meter dash as a junior.
She’s faster now.
For sake of comparison, Wise’s championship time in the 2011 finals was 11.91 seconds. That same season she took third in the 200 in 24.50.
Always being the fastest kid growing up might have lulled her into a false sense of security during her freshman indoor and outdoor seasons in an Indiana State uniform. However, she quickly discovered the work required to take her talents to another level.
“Katie doesn’t like to lose; and once she got to (the outdoor) nationals last season, she found out where she was and worked much harder in practice,” said Michael Roberts, who coaches sprinters for the Indiana State men’s and women’s programs.
“This season she’s been very, very consistent with her times and with her training.”
The Sycamores’ 2014 indoor season started in December with a dual meet at Eastern Illinois. Among the ensuing stops were Wisconsin’s Badger Invitational, in which Wise won the 60 in 7.52 seconds; her runner-up at the Indiana Relays in 7.48; and victories in the 60 and 200 at the Air Force Quadrangular in Colorado Springs, Colo.
This weekend punctuates her indoor season. Wise will run the 100- and 200-meter dashes and anchor the Sycamores’ 400 relay effort once the outdoor season begins March 28 at the Cornell Spring Classic Invitational hosted by Southern Illinois University.
“We lift two to three different days a week, and we condition for eight weeks,” Wise said of her regimen. “It’s just different training than in high school.”
Wise admits experiencing the occasional homesickness. She misses family and friends in Johnson County and wishes they could attend her meets the way they did when she was at Indian Creek.
Attempting to prove you’re one of the best at what you do carries a price that Wise is willing to pay.
“Katie has never seen any of the girls she’s running against this weekend, but if you keep her positive she always performs well,” Roberts said. “She doesn’t like to lose. ... I’m just going to let her handle her business.”