As Luke Miller steps to the line Tuesday at the Northrop Sectional Cross Country Championship, he has a powerful weapon at his disposal: confidence. The Bishop Dwenger senior knows that no matter what has transpired this season, he'll race best at the most important time.
Miller and the Saints are among the favorites to advance to Saturday's West Noble Regional. A top 15 finish as an individual or a top five team place by Bishop Dwenger will advance Miller one more step towards his goal.
“I feel pretty good," Miller said. "(Coach Eric Ade) always gets us peaked just right and last year I ran great, especially at semi-state."
That he did, placing seventh at sectional, 10th at regional, 10th at semi-state and finally 42nd at state. This year he has goals of a top three semistate and top 25 (all-state) state finish. According to Ade, Miller is on schedule.
“Luke has had a (up and down) season,” Ade said. “There were a couple meets that didn't go well, especially the SAC meet. But that was my fault for telling him to go out (conservatively). But now the races will be more competitive and he can do what he does best.”
And that, according to Ade, is compete.
“Luke is one of the most quiet seniors I've ever coached but he's also right near the top in terms of competitiveness,” Ade said. “He's so mentally tough in races and tactically, one of the smartest racer I've ever coached.”
Miller puts it a bit differently: “What I like about running is that it's not about technique. It's about pushing yourself as hard as you can.”
Defending champion Carroll comes in ranked No. 2 statewide in the coach's polls. Also ranked is Homestead (No. 18) and Dwenger (No. 21).
“Our team goal all year is to make it to state,” Miller said. “And we know we'll run our best at the right time.”
There's no substitute for confidence.
What: IHSAA Boy's and Girl's Cross Country Sectionals
Which: The top five teams and the first 15 finishers advance to Saturday's Regionals. Northrop and West Noble Sectionals feed into the West Noble Regional. Bellmont and Marion Sectionals feed into the Marion Regional.
Northrop (5 p.m.): Carroll, Columbia City, Bishop Dwenger, Blackhawk Christian, Concordia Lutheran, North Side, Northrop, Snider, Garrett, Homestead, Leo, Whitko.
West Noble (5 p.m.): Angola, Central Noble, Churubusco, DeKalb, East Noble, Eastside, Fremont, Hamilton, Lakeland, Prairie Heights, West Noble, Westview.
Bellmont (5 p.m.): Adams Central, Bellmont, Bluffton, Bishop Luers, Canterbury, South Side, Wayne, Heritage, New Haven, Norwell, South Adams, Woodlan.
Marion (5:30 p.m.): Blackford, Eastbrook, Huntington North, Madison-Grant, Marion, Mississinewa, Northfield, Oak Hill, Southern Wells, Southwood, Wabash.