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Metro Male Athlete of 21: Cleveland’s Wysong ‘wasn’t a talker, just a worker’

Cleveland High graduate Luke Wysong was New Mexico’s Gatorade Male Athlete of the Year in football and in track and field in 2021. (Robert E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Testimonials about Luke Wysong tend to be sharply worded, which is a compliment of the highest order.

“He’s great all the time,” said Cleveland High’s longtime boys track and field coach, Kenny Henry, who doesn’t often speak so glowingly about a Storm athlete, and he’s coached more than his fair share.

“In my experience, with Luke and the years he ran track for us, he never had an off day. He’s a machine.”

Wysong made the most of the four months of high school sports in the spring and early summer of 2021. He was instrumental in the Storm being undefeated in Class 6A football, and last month, he was the high-point athlete at the Class 5A state track and field meet, where he set four personal-best marks.

He was the state Gatorade Athlete of the Year in both sports.

Even as he is currently immersed with the University of New Mexico football program, where he is a promising incoming freshman, Wysong can lay claim to this last bit of prep business – he is the Journal’s metro Male Athlete of the Year.

“I never once thought in a million years I would be getting all of this,” Wysong, 18, said. “I even thought about it (the other day). Whenever coach (Heath) Ridenour had the youth football camps, and I was there, he would bring in the former Gatorade athletes of the year. And I’d be looking at them, like, damn, I don’t think I’d ever be up there on that stage. It all played out how it did and I’m forever grateful.”

Wysong already is living in UNM housing as the Lobos prepare for their 2021 season. And he’s expected to be an integral component during his career, perhaps even as early as this fall.

“Me and his dad (Adam) were teammates (at UNM), so I knew what family he was coming from,” Lobos football coach Danny Gonzales said. “He’s a football player. He does everything. He’s the prototypical type of kid we want to build our program on.”

Wysong had a profound impact on the football field, even though he was limited to three games. He sat out one of the Storm’s four games as a potential COVID close contact. He caught five TD passes – at University Stadium, against Las Cruces – in his final game.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound slot receiver scored six receiving touchdowns among his 15 catches. But he averaged nearly 30 yards per reception. His speed and YAC (yards after catch) quotients were often breathtaking. Wysong also made significant contributions as a running back and kick returner. He was a first-team All-State selection in 6A.

“I feel I’m gonna fit in the same way I fit in at Cleveland,” Wysong said. “Nothing is given, so I’m gonna go out there and prove what I can do.”

The pandemic illustrated Wysong’s commitment, without defining it in so many words, Ridenour said.

“You saw the workouts he did during COVID,” he said. “That didn’t happen because of COVID. That’s just who he was. He’s quite a guy. He wasn’t a talker, just a worker.”

What role Wysong will fill with the Lobos is an open-ended question, which is a benefit for all concerned.

“We’re planning to use him every which way we can,” Gonzales said. “He can play on special teams, he can return kicks, he can cause matchup problems, we can motion him or (use him) in straight-up slot. He gives us a ton of options, especially as fast as he is.”

Said Ridenour: “(He’s) a nightmare for defensive coordinators, because they don’t know where he’s gonna be. It’s a complete advantage for him.”

Wysong said he also plans to run some indoor and outdoor track at UNM – the 100 meters and perhaps the 4×100 outdoors, and the 60-meter dash indoors.

“Some of the former slots have done that and had pretty good success,” Wysong said. “Track is one of my main loves. … I want to do outdoors and make it as far as I can with that, so I’m gonna try to do both. It’s not gonna be easy.”

Wysong ran a blistering 10.55 seconds at last month’s Class 5A state track and field meet in the 100-meter final. It would have been a state record were it not for the slightest breeze that was at his back. He later added the 200-meter title.

He broke a state record in the long jump, but was that slightly eclipsed by La Cueva’s Brad Thomas in that event. Wysong was beaten by 0.02 seconds in the 400-meter final. And he ran a leg in Cleveland’s 4×100-meter relay that eclipsed a state record.

He scored 26½ points for the Storm – all in about a three-hour span, adding to its impressive nature. Cleveland easily won the state title.

“In my experience with Luke, and the years he ran track for us, he never had an off day,” Henry said. “His ability to compete, I haven’t been around many athletes at all who are that way.”

Wysong, for his part, doesn’t stray from his even-keeled nature or his blue-collar work ethic.

“I was never one to need external motivation,” he said. “My mom and dad always told me I could take myself as far as I could do, and it’s all up to me. I’ve just always been that way, working hard for what I want.”

The Journal’s metro prep athletes of 2021 are Luke Wysong, left, and Aalijah Alarcon, both of Cleveland High. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal.)

 

About Luke

AGE: 18

BIRTHPLACE: Albuquerque

HIGH SCHOOL: Cleveland (2021 graduate)

GPA: 3.6

PARENTS: Adam and Beth

SIBLING: Evan, 16

NEXT: Wysong will play football and run track for the University of New Mexico.

FAMILY TRADITION: Wysong’s mother (volleyball) and father (football) are former Lobo athletes, and his two uncles, Ben and Daniel, also played football at UNM. “How many other kids get to say they went to the same college, played the same sport, lived in the same spots, as their parents?” Wysong said. “I think that’s really cool to keep that family legacy going. But I’m also creating my own path, so it’s pretty nice.”

NEXT IN LINE: Evan could be Cleveland’s quarterback this coming season, and he is most definitely the trash-talker in the family, Beth Wysong said. “He’s more loud than I am,” Luke said. “People are attracted to who he is and what he’s doing. I’m excited to see him play.”

NEW INK: A few weeks ago, Luke Wysong got an interesting tattoo on his right arm. “ABLE” is spelled along his forearm: Adam, Beth, Luke, Evan.

SPARE TIME: Not that Wysong gets a ton of time to himself, but when he does, he likes to get outdoors and explore. He plays golf, he snowboards, he is a a surfer, he likes to mountain bike, and he is a fly- fisherman. His partner in crime in these endeavors is often former Cleveland teammate Tyler Jenson.

 




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