E.A. Sports Today

‘Out with a bang’

Now healthy, PV’s Miller gets his county championship in his final attempt and sets the record along the way

The runners in the lead pack — (from left) Anniston’s Miciah Myles, Pleasant Valley’s Matisse Miller, White Plains’ Jake Moore and Oxford’s Reed Robinson — set the early pace in the county boys race.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Matisse Miller was finally healthy enough to do some damage in the Calhoun County Cross Country Championship and he came into it with pretty big ambitions.

The Pleasant Valley senior was the favorite in the race at Oxford Lake and wanted to take the meet record down to a point it might not be broken for a long time.

A soft tract kept Miller from going real low, but he finally got his County win and the record in becoming the first runner in race history to break 17 minutes. He won the race in 16:55.86, more than four seconds faster than the previous record Oxford’s Nathan Thrasher set in 2008 (17:00.03).

It was the fourth time in six races this season Miller has been in the 16s.

“I went out with a bang,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to go out with, knowing I did finish strong, that I did win it.

“Getting record was nice. With the course today it could have been better. I’m not upset at all with the way I performed on this course. I still broke 17 and I wasn’t too, too far off my PR.”

Miller has fought through a series of back and leg injuries leading up to this race in the past. He didn’t run it as a ninth- or tenth-grader and last year, coming back from falling on this course earlier in the year, he finished sixth (18:17.72).

Even Thursday he was running through the final stages of an illness and developed a knot on his leg knocking into a teammate shortly before the race.

“He was the guy to beat last year but the injury plagued him,” PV coach Brad Hood said. “I always said he has a big-block V-8 motor in a Pinto frame. He would never slow down; he was always wanting to do extra. I said you’re gonna tear your body down — your motor and your heart is gonna tear your body down. And it did for two years.

“Now he’s at the point his body’s strong enough and he’s listening to me more. I knew if he was healthy he’s the guy to beat … I just didn’t think there was a boy who could run with them.”

The race started in a pack of top contenders. Through the first mile Miller was running fourth behind Anniston’s Miciah Myles, White Plains’ Jake Moore and defending race champion Reed Robinson of Oxford. He was still running third turning toward the first bridge crossing, but took the lead shortly thereafter and was still in front at the two-mile mark.

Moore finished second at 17:09:29 and Robinson out-sprinted Anniston’s James Haynes in the closing stretch to finish third. Anniston, which didn’t have a team three months ago, won the team title.

“There’s a ton of talent in this county,” Miller said. “We don’t have a super-duper fast county, but there’s talent here. It made me where I had to push myself. I knew it wasn’t going to come easy to me.”

Moore impressed Miller as the surprise runner-up. The Wildcats’ freshman has been taking things easy in recent weeks because of a heart condition, but he went into the race determined to keep up with Miller and broke the 10-year-old school record by 16 seconds.

“Exceeded expectations, that’s for sure,” his dad and White Plains coach John Moore said. “I was hoping he would just do well. The main thing I was hoping is he came back to me. As a father I could care less about his time; as a coach I just wanted him to help our team out. I think he would’ve helped our team even if he had done 18.”


Top 15 individuals
(All-County recognition)
Matisse Miller, Pleasant Valley 16:55.86
Jake Moore, White Plains 17:09.29
Reed Robinson, Oxford 17:16.54
James Haynes, Anniston 17:17.05
Miciah Myles, Anniston 17:35.84
Skyler Mcleod, Pleasant Valley 17:41.05
William Farley, Anniston 17:48.57
Jacob Gladen, Pleasant Valley 17:57.90
Dekota Roberts, Pleasant Valley 17:58.34
Tony White, Anniston 18:08.60
Luke Larson, White Plains 18:18.67
Christian Myles, Anniston 18:22.77
Gabe Hammonds, Ohatchee 18:23.14
Dylan Hulsey, Oxford 18:31.89
Blake Noah, Ohatchee 18:37.30
Team champion: Anniston.

White Plains’ boys race runnerup Jake Moore (R) is congratulated by Anniston’s James Haynes during the awards ceremony. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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