Everything came together for Crawfordsville’s Ryan Miller this past cross country season. Miller for the second straight year qualified for the Semi-State and was a leader for the Athenians both on and off the course. Miller placed 54th overall at the Semi-State which saw him compete against the likes of Carmel, Zionsville, Center Grove, Noblesville, Brebeuf and plenty of the other top teams in the state.
What was arguably his best feat of the season came in the sectional as Miller placed ninth overall with a time of 16:28.3 which broke the school record as he helped CHS earn a fourth place team finish and advance to the Regional as a team.
Athenian coach Megan Craig noticed the growth and progression of her star runner mainly in the way he approaches a race beforehand.
“There was tremendous growth in Ryan’s ability to compete this year,” she said “He has always been a talented runner with great work ethic. This season we saw a shift in his mindset. Ryan used every race as an opportunity to compete and be pushed to the next level. He understands that the competition he faces is making him stronger and faster. The maturity and poise on the course was that of a veteran runner this year. It was so fun to watch.”
Miller also helped the Athenian team defend their county title and earn a second place finish at the conference meet. With his talent being on full display and the season he had, Miller is the clear choice for the 2022 Journal Review Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Miller also noted how his mental approach took a big step forward this season and how that allowed him to have the success that he ended up having.
“This season was a season of growth for me in many ways. One of the biggest though, was mentally,” the standout junior said. “In the past I focused in just finishing the race, but this season I feel like I focused more on pushing myself to not only finish the race but to not stop before the race was over. I used every last second in each race to really push myself.”
What makes Miller a special runner is no matter that race, he goes full speed and give 100%. A story that sticks with me about Ryan this past season is at the sectional. Craig told Miller that the boys team had a real good chance of getting out even if Miller didn’t have his best race. He didn’t need to go out and set another personal best or the school record, but that’s exactly what happened.
“There are races that I will ask him to run more conservative than others, but ultimately he only has one gear and that is all out,” Craig said. “We have been blessed with a very selfless group of athletes. Ryan wasn’t focused on individual success but rather the success of the team. I feel that contributed to how well he ran.”
The Athenian boys have had long standing history here in county of success. This past season saw them have one of their better years as a collective group. Along with Miller, seniors Roman Contreras and Peter Kearns, sophomores Max Brumett and Hutton Haas, and junior Tyson Fuller made up a dangerous, deep and talented group. Miller noted how getting the opportunity to run with this group this past season not only helped him grow as a runner, but allowed the entire team to bond together and build friendships that will last a lifetime.
“The team this year is unlike any other from previous years,” Miller said. “I feel that we really bonded over our summer training and made a close knit relationship. We not only ran together but also hung out as friends outside of cross country. We even had multiple runners in other sport where the team would go out of their way to support them. There were also defiant moments that showed how strong our team was and how we’re willing to stand by one another/stand up for one another no mater the outcome.”
Miller will now turn to his senior season where CHS brings back a majority of its roster. With Miller leading the way and only getting better the sky could be the limit for the talented Athenian squad. Miller and Craig both have their eyes now set toward the future.
“This year was a very special year for Ryan,” Craig said. “He broke records on the track in the spring and then again this fall. I know one of his goals was to be able to step to the line at semi-state competing with his teammates. He has next year to lead them to that start. He has continued to progress and I know he will have his eye on a trip to Terre Haute (State Finals) in the fall. Ryan will do whatever it takes to make that goal a reality.”
Miller along with those same goals that Craig mentioned added a few other of his own for next season.
“I have definitely set some high goals for the next season,” Miller said. “I would really like to see myself in the state meet next year, but would also like to work towards a big PR. I am hoping to run sub 16 next year. Not only have I set personal goals, but I would also like to see our team do well. I think it would be awesome to see Athenian XC with the conference title next year.”
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