Transition to hurdles pays for Oak Harbor’s Miller

J. Patrick Eaken

Oak Harbor junior Isiah Miller was a sprinter in junior high, and then he transitioned to hurdles his freshman year.

Miller does not mind — as long as he is winning races.

“I think I like competing because when I see someone running fast, I’m like, ‘I want to run fast, too.’ I start looking at them, but I should not do that. A lot of times I don’t look forward, I look at the person that I have to beat the whole time. It’s kind of funny,” Miller said.

At the Division II state track meet, Miller must have been looking ahead the entire time because he placed seventh in the 300 hurdles with a time of 40.25, just over two second behind Perry junior Javin Richards, who won in 38.2 seconds. The transition paid off.

“It took a lot of work,” Miller said, “It is actually a really good opportunity to know that I can do something else because I did hurdles to try and get a new spot and it is working well. It was hard to realize it, like, ‘Oh, I’m at state and I just placed.’ I’m All-Ohio and that is pretty neat. I’m really proud of myself because I always wanted to go to state, and it just happened.”

Miller said learning the technique behind clearing each hurdle takes time and practice.

“You have to learn how to drive your knees and keep your knees up and getting your trail leg over,” Miller said.

Miller is the only state placer among the 10 boys track teams in the Eastern Maumee Bay community, and earns the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Boys Athlete of the Year.

Miller won a league or district championship, or qualified for state, in six different events, so his name is on the All-Press track honor roll more than any other athlete. He also qualified for state with the 4x100 relay team, and his entire season has been about winning multiple events and helping the Rockets to a Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division championship and a second place finish in the district meet.

“I’m super proud of him,” Oak Harbor coach Andy Augsburger said. “I can’t even tell you how much respect I have for the young man. He has done an amazing job this year in the weight room and in the offseason, he was there getting himself ready. 

“A lot of people did not know this but he is very humble, he doesn’t talk a lot, but in junior high he was a sprinter — that’s what he started out as. Well, his freshman year in 2019, we knew that he would score the most points if he became a hurdler because we had Brandon Elmes, one of our top hurdlers in 2019, and we knew that he could be transferred into that real well. 

“So, coach (John) McKitrick and I talked about it and we transferred him into the hurdles as a freshman in 2019. Well, lo and behold, the next thing you know Isiah Miller ends up running 41s, 42s, so in the 300 hurdles we transferred him and it was a good decision.

Fast forward to 2021, here we are, and we knew his speed was incredible in 2021. We just didn’t put him into open events in the 100 and 200. I think Isiah really does want to run the 100 and 200, for sure — he has a passion for that, and he also has a passion for the sport. I think next year he would like to pursue those areas a little more to see where he fits, but also having the technique for hurdles is something that is awesome and that is only going to help him if he decides to pursue an athletic career past high school.”

Augsburger says Miller’s “passion for the sport” goes beyond his own performance.

“He’s a great role model. My son (Wyatt) is a junior high athlete and he’s coming through the program, and he has seen Isiah in 2019 growing as a hurdler and has sort of seen what Isiah can do and also Isiah has also helped out my son and other hurdlers who are coming through the program,” Augsburger said. “He’s a great kid who has done an amazing job. Isiah is just one of those kids who is humble and he is a competitor, too, on the flip side of that. He really goes out there and gives it his all a lot.”


Two sets of ‘freshmen’

The Rockets had seven boys athletes qualify for state, which tells you what kind of program Augsburger has built.

“I really think it has to do with the culture of the program and creating a more family environment and trying to get these kids to buy in,” Augsburger said. “We try to talk about the mental aspect of track and field, and I know when I started doing track I benefited from it tremendously. I’m trying to bring that to Oak Harbor. It is something that has been amazing to watch. 

“I love coaching and teaching here at Oak Harbor — it is such a great community with great people. The kids, especially the senior class, have really done an amazing job. I know a lot of other coaches, I talk to them this year, trying to get a feel for what other coaches vibes were about the season and they felt like they were coaching more than they ever have because obviously they did not have a season last year and you are trying to get two sets of “freshmen” ready for a meet and the competition and everything else. It was something special and I can say that my senior class definitely did an amazing job and the coaching staff that we had was just phenomenal.

“I cannot take all the credit — no way, no how — they are an amazing group of coaches and an amazing group of seniors that have led this group because I kind of knew as sophomores in 2019 what they were going to have to do to get this group ready. 

“That awards banquet I had last Tuesday I just relayed that message to my seniors because I wanted to know how proud I am of them. For anybody to go through not having a season and then having to go compete, I think that would have been hard for anybody. But for these seniors who went through the program, I have 11, and the girls have about 13, so that group of 2021 seniors they need a lot of credit due.”




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