Worrying about individual accomplishments over anything else is easy in track and field.
Not Nick Miller. Whatever Wadsworth needed him to do, the junior did it and did it well.
From running on one of the state’s top 4x800-meter relays to helping the 4x4 to a Division I regional berth, Miller was one of the busiest guys on top of being one of Medina County’s top 800 and 1,600 runners.
Even when faced with an injury in the final meet, he choose to gut out the 4x8 final and drop one of his individual races for the benefit of the team, one of many attributes that made Miller the Gazette MVP.
“That shows you the type of kid he is,” Grizzlies coach Chris Beery said. “I don’t think it ever crossed his mind to not run the 4x8 and we knew, coming in, that he was going to have to pick either the 16 or the 8, because of his hips.
“I think that shows the type of teammate he is and the competitive fortitude he has. There was no way he was going to miss that 4x8. He’s a complete team player and he wants to do what’s best for the team and his teammates, as well.”
Miller was Wadsworth’s leading scorer, a rarity for a distance runner, and earned Suburban League National Conference Track Athlete of the Year honors before qualifying for regionals in four events and state in three.
In the midst of it all, he was battling hip pain that affected the final day of the Amherst Regional through the state meet.
“It was surprising the last two weeks. It came out of nowhere,” said Miller, who ended up tearing a tendon in his quadriceps.
“At regionals, we kind of panicked because I’ve had this pain before in my other hip and it took a while for it to go away. It’s not something to mess around with, so we were worried.
“Leading up to state, it kept getting better and better, so I was thinking it was just a fluke thing or one of those things where it just tightened up. It just loosened back up.”
Miller didn’t practice in the week after regionals. He rode a bike around Wadsworth and took part in cryotherapy to get ready for the biggest meet of the season.
Miller managed to help the 4x8 to a fourth-place finish on the first day of the state meet, but the pain gradually got worse by the 1,600 on the final day, when he placed 15th before opting out of the 800.
“In the 4x8 (at state), my warmup felt good and the first lap felt good, but then with 300 meters left on the second lap I started feeling it and I couldn’t finish as strong as I usually do,” Miller said. “The next day, I didn’t feel as smooth in my warmup (for the 1,600), and I felt it right from the beginning. I tried to push through it, but I just couldn’t. From there, I couldn’t run the 800 because I was in so much pain and couldn’t even walk. I was just done.”
While the end of the season was far from what he expected, Miller had a dominant year.
At the SL meet, where the Grizzlies posted a dominating win, he was a four-event champion, breaking conference records as a member of the 4x8 relay and in the 800, along with winning the 1,600 and helping the 4x4 to victory.
While Miller is used to the workload, he followed an impressive win of 4:16.13 in the 1,600 with a personal-record 1:53.99 to break the SL and stadium records in the 800 less than a half-hour later.
“That surprised me,” he said. “I think it showed me that I can do multiple events and do well in each of them. Throughout the season I started doing more events and, towards the end, I might’ve been doing a little too much, but we needed the points for the team.”
Along with the 4x8 dominating the Brunswick District and Amherst Regional, including breaking the 26-year-old district record, Miller posted runner-up finishes in the 800 at both meets and ran a season-low 4:14.46 to take third in the 1,600 at regionals.
All this was accomplished while starting to feel the effects of an injury that eventually ended his season one race too soon.
Miller is a no-excuses guy, however, and felt that watching the 800 at state was hard, to say the least.
It was a learning experience for the year ahead.
“I was mad that it happened, because I know what I’m capable of and I know I’m one of the top people in the state,” he said. “It was just unfortunate that it had to happen at the most important time of the season.
“This season taught me that I could do multiple events and perform well, though. I have had some injuries in the past and I’ve had to push through it, but this year I did the best I could and tried not to hold anything back.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.