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 read more

Syracuse boosts postseason chances with 2-1 win over N.C. State

first_img Published on October 23, 2015 at 11:42 pm Contact Chris: | @ChrisLibonati At the railing of SU Soccer Stadium, as some fans cleared out, a few stuck around to serenade Louis Cross.“We love you Louis, yes we do!” they chanted.In addition to the kids waiting for autographs, there were three fans, each holding a cardboard cutout head — one with Juuso Pasanen on it, another with Julian Buescher and the last with Ben Polk.After a 2-1 win against North Carolina State, Cross’ parents stood at the railing. Players, alumni and the fans with the signs posed for pictures. “It’s weird,” Cross said of being serenaded. “It’s great to have my parents out here as well for their last game to get a goal.”Cross’ front-post header with less than five minutes left in No. 15 SU’s (10-4-2, 3-3-1 Atlantic Coast) game against North Carolina State (8-4-3, 1-3-3) saved the Orange’s postseason hopes. Head coach Ian McIntyre and SU won 10 games for the fourth straight season after combining for just eight in the three seasons prior.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textDespite two devastating losses to then-No. 2 North Carolina and then-No. 4 Clemson and a tie against Hartford, SU regained its footing against the Wolfpack after nearly 75 minutes of futility.“I’m sure as soon as I leave you guys, people will start telling me results,” McIntyre said. “It was important to get to 10 points. It keeps us in front of some very good teams.”SU was losing for seven minutes against N.C. State. Wolfpack players fumbled the ball around the 18-yard box with about 23 minutes left in the game. The ball finally landed on the feet of midfielder Julius Duchscherer, who kicked a slow-rolling shot into the bottom right corner.A group of five SU defenders and midfielders all looked in different directions after the goal. Cross had his hands on his knees. The 1-0 Wolfpack lead gave the game a familiar feel to both the UNC and Clemson games. Goals in the last 30 minutes during each of those contests downed SU, 2-1 and 1-0, respectively.“Come on, put it back,” McIntyre shouted about the ball to his players as they ran back to restart play.“To go down,” Polk said, “It was like, ‘Oh, uh oh, we need sort this out.’”Minutes later, Polk played the ball with his back to defenders. Not having seen a shred of space between the closing defenders behind him, Polk swung around and booted the ball. The defenders snipped any gap the ball could have rolled through.But only after the shot snuck into the bottom right corner of the net and past the shielded goalie.Polk’s goal warmed the frozen fans, who cheered a little bit louder.“It was one of them where I just took the touch and on a swivel just as fast as I could,” Polk said. “Lucky, I think it went through the kid’s legs.”Ten minutes later, the fans stomped the metal bleachers louder than they had all game as midfielder Liam Callahan crossed in a corner kick. The service found Cross, who headed in the last goal SU would need.Cross skirted all 10 players chasing him, running all the way across the field into a circle of teammates at the end of the bench.“A bit surreal, isn’t it?” Cross said. “The clock was running down and I saw space on the front post.”The goal allowed SU to leap Boston College in the ACC standings after the Eagles’ loss on Friday. After losing six starters, about 30 percent of its offense and its whole back line, two newcomers to SU’s starting lineup — Polk and Cross — teamed up to kick the Orange into the postseason again.A graveyard of popcorn boxes, rosters and other papers remained in the bleachers in the aftermath of Syracuse blowing two leads to tie Hartford 2-2 in double overtime.This time, fans filled the bleachers until the end and made their way to the railing to celebrate what could be SU’s last home game this season.“We’re a good team and there’s a chance we wouldn’t make the ACC tournament. We needed enough points,” McIntyre said. “It’s brutal. It’s great. It’s exciting. There’s still a lot to be played.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more