Wise overcomes injuries, wins 2 golds at state

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, June 7, 2022


Contributing Writer

LEXINGTON – Molly Wise had a winning smile, but that grin did not tell the whole story.

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As the Boyle County graduate posed twice on the awards stand with a gold medal and a sign that said “2022 State Champion,” she knew she could have been standing somewhere else on the podium — or somewhere else entirely.

The Boyle County graduate won the Class 2A girls long jump and triple jump titles Friday at the state track and field championships at UK, finishing on top at the end of a season in which she nearly hit bottom twice.

“It means everything,” Wise said. “This season has just been ups and downs the whole way through, and I’m extremely thrilled and very grateful to everybody that’s helped me along the way with the whole journey.”

After taking up track and field as a junior and making a splash in the sand pits in her first season, Wise was expected to contend for championships in both of the horizontal jumps this spring.

She won indoor state championships in both events earlier this year, but a hamstring injury and an ankle injury hampered her early in the outdoor season, and a midseason auto accident nearly did much more damage.

“Every time one of those setbacks hits, that’s the first thing that comes to mind, that this may not be the outcome,” Wise said.

Wise, who finished fourth in the triple jump and fifth in the long jump at last year’s state meet, won the triple jump by 18 1/4 inches in her first competition Friday, then won the long jump by just three-quarters of an inch.

“I’m over the moon right now, actually, so extremely excited,” she said.

The most surprising of those results might have been in the triple jump, given what transpired since Wise’s accident about a month ago.

She came away with an injury to her right leg and some scrapes and bruises from the wreck that sent her car to the junkyard, but she didn’t realize at first how that leg injury would affect her jumps.

The pain in her right leg, her takeoff leg in both jumps, was affecting her, especially in the triple jump.

“It was just too much impact,” Wise said. “The first phase of triple is really rough with all that speed behind it.”

Days before the regional meet, Wise decided to switch legs for the triple jump, taking off on her left leg. After only a handful of practices, she won the triple jump and placed second in the long jump — where she was still taking off on her right leg — at Boyle’s regional meet.

“It just took a lot of practice, a lot of repetition over and over and over on that leg,” she said. “I would definitely give a lot of credit to my coaches, my trainers, my physical therapist. They’re all wonderful, and they all helped me get back to where I am now.”

Wise, who signed with the University of Richmond earlier this year, said each of her championships was meaningful in its own way.

“The long was really special, because there were some really great competitors today. But triple, just reworking everything the past couple weeks, I’m really happy with how it turned out,” she said.

Three other local athletes each won state championships for the first time Friday, and Mercer County swept both the boys and girls team titles with 94 and 81 1/2 points, respectively.

Germani Crosby of Lincoln County, an eighth-grader, won the girls shot put by just more than 3 feet with a throw that was about 8 feet better than her top throw a year ago.

“My goal last year when I started throwing was just to get the hang of it,” Crosby said. “My goal (this year) was to hit a mark and then press on from that mark.”

Senior Chase Burkhart gave Garrard County, which does not have a track of its own and did not have a state champion in track and field before last year, its second state champion in as many seasons and its first boys champion by winning the high jump.

Junior Cooper Brummett won the boys discus for Boyle, winning by about 8 feet after finishing sixth in 2021.

Another junior, Andrew Hardwick, nearly won the boys shot put before his best competitive throw of the season was bested by 3 inches by Mercer County’s Lleyton Penn.

“I feel like there was still more in me, but I was fine with that being my final throw of the year,” Hardwick said.