MGD: Miller genuine distance runner

first_imgBeing a new freshman on campus can be a scary thing. Being a new freshman on the defending NCAA cross country team can be just as scary. But for freshman Craig Miller, who competes on the cross country and track teams for Wisconsin, it’s not scary at all. In fact, the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Freshman of the Year just laughs about it.”I didn’t even know that was an award,” Miller said. “Coach told me that they named me and I was like, ‘What’s that?’ It’s pretty cool when you think about it.”A native of Lancaster, Pa., the three-time Pennsylvania state champion knew he would have some big shoes to fill here in Madison. As a newcomer to a cross country team that had won the Big Ten and NCAA title just a year earlier, he knew that he just had to do what he’s good at — running fast.”I’ve always been pretty fast,” Miller said. “When I was younger I played basketball and soccer, and that’s when I figured out I could run. So freshman year I decided to go out for cross country, and I think it was a pretty good decision.””Pretty good” is putting it mildly. After finishing fifth at the state cross country meet as a freshman, Miller went on to win the next three state titles. He holds the Pennsylvania state cross country record at 5,000 meters with a time of 14:56. In track, he was the 2004 and 2005 state champion in the 1,600 meters, setting the state record of 4:09.33. He took second in the mile at the 2005 Nike Nationals, running it in 4:07.19. He took third in the mile at the 2004 Adidas Nationals at 4:06.76. And at the young age of 15, he ran a 4:14.26 1,600-meter time to set a U.S. record for freshmen.”I had heard of what he could do,” head cross country and assistant track coach Jerry Schumacher said. “He was one of the best prep mile-runners in the nation. He had excelled at both state and national meets. When I got the chance to go out there and meet his family and watch him run … I knew he would fit in well here.”And so far that’s just what Miller has done. During the cross country season, Miller was one of the top six runners all year. He finished fifth on the team and 90th overall at the NCAA championships when the team finished as the national runners-up this past fall. He earned all-region honors with his ninth-place finish — good for fourth on the team — at the NCAA Great Lakes regional. During track season, Miller runs the opening leg of the distance medley relay. That team is picked to finish fifth this weekend at the NCAA Indoor Championships.”Looking at the times of some of the other relays, there’s no reason we can’t take home the title this weekend,” Miller said. “There’s only like three or four seconds separating the top six relays, so if each of us four can cut a second from our leg then we’ve got a shot at winning.”Winning is a huge reason Miller chose to come here to run for the cardinal and white. As one of the most heralded runners in Pennsylvania history, Miller wanted to come to a school to win. The reputations of both Schumacher and head track coach Ed Nuttycombe combined with UW’s 2005 NCAA cross country title made the decision a lot easier from Miller.”When [Schumacher] came out to visit me, I knew right away that I liked him,” Miller said. “He watched me run and met my family. I kind of knew after meeting him that he was a guy I would like to coach me.”There was one thing that some people back in Lancaster wondered after Craig had decided to go to Wisconsin. What about Brad, his twin brother who was literally a step behind him for much of their four-year career?”He’s running at Syracuse now,” Miller said. “The team isn’t as strong as we are, so I kind of get the upper hand there. We never really had that rivalry thing going on. He did his thing and I did my thing. But it was cool having a brother who you could relate to.”So Miller has the upper hand in a non-existent sibling rivalry. He already has being a member of a NCAA National Runner-up squad on his résumé — and a Big Ten Indoor Track Freshman of the Year to boot. After this weekend he could add an NCAA relay and possible team title to that list, something Miller longs for.”I love winning. That’s why I came here, because I knew that running at Wisconsin meant winning,” he said. “It’s hard to tell with running what will happen, but if all goes as it should there’s no reason that we can’t bring some hardware home with us.”last_img

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