Alyssa Wolf has two passions: family and running.
Each time the Brunswick star finished one of her many victories in the 3,200-meter run this season, she politely waited for the rest of the field to finish before heading over the fence to see her parents.
Micah and Christine Wolf played a major role in Wolf’s success as familiar voices when she passed on one of her many laps during a dominant season.
“Even in middle school, every time I had a meet, at least one of my parents were there,” she said. “It’s really nice to have supportive parents.”
From the opening weeks of the season, Wolf established herself as the top 3,200 runner in the state, and she captured the Division I state title to lock up Gazette MVP.
Even in the biggest race of her career at a packed Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, the junior still heard her parents in the crowd as she recorded a school-record time of 10:27.57.
“I heard them a little bit,” Wolf said. “It’s really nice to come home and know there are people that are as excited for you as you are. It’s really nice to have that kind of support.”
With support from her parents and a lot of hard work, the 5-foot-7 Wolf took the state by storm.
Wolf didn’t make the Blue Devils postseason roster for the 3,200 a year ago but carried momentum from an All-Ohio finish during the cross country season to even better performances on the track.
She wasted little time, as she clocked an impressive 10:38.39 to win the Dublin Coffman Invitational in early April. The time stood as the fastest in the state until she reset it by two seconds to win the Greater Cleveland Conference championship.
“I knew about it, but I had no idea it was going to stick,” Wolf said. “I never thought I was going to be No. 1 in the state the whole year, but it just worked out that way.”
Brunswick distance coach Kerry Hunter has had his share of standouts. After the success of Rebecca Craddock, who was runner-up in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200 a year ago, the veteran coach put Wolf on a similar plan.
Everything fell into place, but Hunter said Wolf’s relentless work ethic carried her to the top of the podium.
“Al has the same hard-nose training attitude Reb has, so I felt very comfortable putting her through the same training regiment,” Hunter said. “The 3,200 is a great fit for Al. She is not blessed with great top end speed, but she has a motor that won’t stop. She has a unique ability to stay mentally focused throughout the race.”
That mindset carried Wolf through the regular season without a loss and then into dominating wins at the GCC, Brunswick District and Amherst Regional, where Wolf led by 250 meters for most of the race.
Even when she was pushed for the first time in the state final with Gahanna Lincoln’s Claire Steigerwald on her shoulder, Wolf calmly changed gears to outkick Steigerwald in the final 600.
To the 17-year-old, though, it was all about trusting the process.
“I’m really happy with myself with how the season went,” she said. “I don’t think it was all at once that I just got all-of-a-sudden better, it was gradually throughout the year I was dropping time. This season was just my season where I felt like I was doing my best.”
Not too shabby for someone who started running as a way to stay in shape for soccer, only to trade in the cleats and shin pads for a pair of track spikes.
Like any determined athlete, Wolf is looking ahead to her next challenge when she picks up her training later this month to get ready for the upcoming cross country season.
“I would really like to go for top five or top 10 for the state meet,” Wolf said. “I think I can get my times down a lot more, so I’m excited.
“I’m still having a hard time believing that I won a state title. It worked out well and I don’t think there were too many races where I was disappointed.”